Howard Morgan’s trial was set to start this past Monday, but due to an illness in the family of retired judge Leo Holt, Morgan’s attorney, the case has been continued until April 23. Originally, the trial was due to start last month but one of the key witnesses disappeared, and Judge Clayton Crane gave Morgan’s attorneys a few weeks to locate Cherise Rush. A videotaped statement was shown last month by Channel 5 news anchor, Marion Brooks. On the tape, Rush’s statement is differs significantly from the account police have given. She stated, for instance, that Morgan’s hands were behind his back when he was shot.
Morgan’s attorneys, Holt, Sam Adam Sr., and Sam Adam Jr. have been unsuccessful in locating Cherise Rush.
Howard Morgan, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad police officer and a former Chicago police officer was shot 25 times on Feb. 21, 2005, at 19th & Lawndale avenues. According to police, he was driving without his lights on and after being stopped for this alleged routine traffic stop, an altercation ensued, and they opened fire.
Morgan spent almost a year in Cook County Jail, unable to post the 10 percent needed for his $2 million bond. In November 2005, an anonymous donor posted the $188,000, the remainder of the $200,000 needed to set him free until trial. He was essentially under hospital room arrest for six months, until being transferred to Cook County Dept. of Corrections Hospital, where he says he slept on the floor because of overcrowding until a cot was available.
Morgan has been charged with four counts of attempted murder and three counts of aggravated battery. Two of the four police officers were also shot, treated, and released that night. According to Pat Camden, police spokesperson that night, Morgan said he was a police officer. “Obviously he’s not,” Camden said, according to initial reporting on the incident in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Later it was revealed that he was a police officer with the railroad and had the right to carry a gun. It was also proven that Morgan had been a Chicago police officer for eight years.
In March 2005, Austin Weekly News attended a meeting where a group of activists presented a letter to Assistant U.S. Attorney Sergio E. Acosta, asking for his assistance. The letter called for an independent federal investigation. According to the family, there has been no response thus far to this request.
With bullets reportedly still in his body and with the use of a cane, Morgan continues to claim he was a victim.
Anyone wishing to assist him in that cause can send a donation to the Howard Morgan Defense Fund at Park National Bank, 815 W. 63rd St. Anyone wanting more information can contact their legal representatives, Judge Leo Holt at 312/431-3473 and attorneys Sam Adam Sr. and Jr. at 773/752-6950.