Coalition calls for federal probe of Morgan shooting

Ministers and West Side activists delivered a letter to the U.S. Attorney, demanding answers on why a retired Chicago cop was shot 25 times.

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By DELORES MCCAIN

In an ongoing effort to bring attention to former police officer and railroad detective Howard Morgan who was shot 25 times on Feb. 21, a coalition of ministers and organizations delivered a letter to U.S. Attorney Sergio Acosta's office, 219 S. Dearborn on April 1.

Acosta's assistant accepted the letter on his behalf and Vera Davis, president of the Westside Branch of NAACP, asked how long before a response could be expected. The assistant could not give an exact time frame, saying only that the letter would be looked into.

The letter in summary is calling for a federal investigation of the incident. The severe nature of the incident has raised many questions at this time. Howard Morgan still lies in a south suburban hospital in the intensive care ward, shackled to his bed. The excessiveness of the response, activists say, requires answers and immediate removal of shackles from his hospital bed.

A member of the ministers coalition, Rev. Marshall Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim Church, told Austin Weekly, "We want a thorough and complete investigation into the Howard Morgan case. And we hope he is receiving proper care. Having him shackled is ridiculous. He also is a sworn officer. The shackles should be removed immediately."

After presentation of the letter, coalition members were interviewed by NBC-5's news anchor Don Lemon. Rev. Paul Jakes, Jr. stated, "Today we delivered a letter to U.S. Attorney Sergio Acosta, calling for an independent investigation into the shooting of Howard Morgan, retired Chicago police officer and railroad officer. We know that in the city of Chicago we've experience the [Burge*] case and the investigation. And we have seen what has happened with those types of cases being investigated by Chicago police. We feel that, based upon the Burge case, we can't expect a fair and honest investigation without getting the Feds involve. The letter will stand to show the family that they are not alone. And then we called for the Feds to make a public statement and to make the mayor of the city aware that we need to have an independent review board in the city of Chicago in order to deal with the systemic problem of police brutality in the city."

Mrs. Davis said, "My reason for being here is to support Rev. Jakes in getting the U.S. Attorney to investigate this. It seems as though a black person's life is not worth a "plugged nickel," and I think after several things that have happened in the past, we do need to have an independent investigation so that the truth can be told and justice can be served. There is much suspicion on this case. Look at the fact that Mr. Morgan is a policeman, and he supposedly fired three shots. If he's a policeman, I would think that he had better aim than just to fire three shots. The gun is not registered, and he's a policeman. He has registered guns available to him. Why carry a unregistered gun? And then why would it take 25 shots to bring him down. That looks very, very murky to me."

The coalition is planning a hospital visit to see firsthand what Morgan's status is.

(*Jon Burge is the former police commander who was fired in 1993 after a mountain of evidence that his Area 2 used brutal torture methods. Amnesty International also called for an investigation into Burge in 1991. Finally, Supt. Martin called for the firing of Jon Burge and suspension two detectives [O'Hara/Youcaitis]. Burge received a full pension and benefits and lives off the coast of Florida.

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