Twenty-five times, 25 times – these numbers have been ringing in the community’s ear since the night of Feb. 21, 2005, when Howard Morgan was shot by police officers on Chicago’s West Side in the Lawndale community.
Morgan is a native Chicagoan. He graduated from Hyde Park High, married his high school sweetheart, Rosalind, and together built a life filled with love and faith in God. Morgan, a former Chicago police officer and current railroad detective for the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad, was driving near his home at 19th & Lawndale Avenue when Chicago police officers stopped him for a traffic violation. According to police, Morgan became belligerent when they tried to handcuff him. He allegedly took out his weapon and shot at them. The police returned fire and shot Morgan 25 times. Morgan has been an officer with Burlington Northern for 14 years and was authorized to carry a weapon.
Since this incident, Morgan’s wife has been an active advocate. Her father, daughter, nieces and sister, Bishop Connie Bansa all have participated in numerous rallies, prayer vigils and meetings, trying to bring attention to their plight. They also sought to raise the $2 million bail Morgan was held on. Although Morgan was unable to walk and was handcuffed to his hospital bed, his injuries from the shooting kept his family in fear for his recovery.
Well-known retired judge Leo Holt and the law firm of Sam Adams & Son are representing the Morgan’s. Follow-up court dates are pending.
On Nov. 22, an anonymous donor posted the $188,000 bail needed to release Morgan. Rosalind was overwhelmed with joy and could not believe her husband was going to be released. The anonymous individual told her they didn’t feel her husband was safe and that he needed to be home for Thanksgiving. Many were surprised to see the Morgan daughter and Holt on TV as they were leaving Cook County Jail where Morgan had been transferred on Sept. 8, after his long stay at Oak Forest Hospital.
Howard Morgan took time to sit down for a talk with the Austin Weekly News.
AWN: “Mr. Morgan what would you like say?”
Morgan: “I am ecstatic and so blessed to have God in my life. I am so thankful to my wife. I always knew she was a strong loving person, but never like this. For her to fight like she has; and when a person says they love you, you really understand what this kind of love is. I can’t begin to explain how much Rosalind means to me and how very, very much I love her. I am so grateful for my family, not only my blood family, but my spiritual family as well.”
AWN: “Have you heard from leaders in the Lawndale community?”
Howard: “I have not heard from the alderman or most of the Lawndale community.
Rosalind: “Churches in Lawndale did not respond. If they did, we did not hear about it.”
Howard: “This incident wasn’t about me. I’m like only the body. This could have happened to anyone. Our people are being used day in and day out. I was a workingman with a badge and they claimed I was an imposter. Having my family there for me while I was incarcerated meant a lot. So many people don’t have anyone. It’s made me see how blessed I am. While in the County Jail the meals were cold, and on one incident they dropped about 15 platters of food and we were told eat that, or eat nothing.”
AWN: “What about your current health situation?”
Morgan: I am using crutches and I have a knee-high cast because my left leg has bullet fragments in it. And my right arm has a rod in it. It’s a miracle I have survived this shooting; I was supposed to be dead. They thought they had killed me, but the Lord has kept me alive and here for a purpose. Maybe some of this purpose is for standing for justice, fairness and families staying together, especially when trouble happens.
“I want to thank everyone in Chicago who have supported my wife and family. I am eternally grateful. Of course there are a lot of things I cannot and will not say at this time, I would like for people to continue to keep me their prayers and eventually the real story will come out.”