Ex-cop gets 40 years for shooting 2 officers

April 5, 2012 3:21:27 PM PDT
He was convicted of attempted murder in a 2005 shootout with Chicago Police that left him severely wounded. Now, a former railroad agent and police officer has been sentenced to 40 years behind bars.

Howard Morgan was convicted of shooting and injuring two Chicago Police officers during a traffic stop.

Morgan was shot 28 times by the officers. His family is vowing to appeal his sentence.

Some consider the 40-year prison sentence a judge gave Morgan the right punishment for the crime. He could have received up to 80 years. Still, the family and supporters of the former Chicago Police officer say Thursday afternoon's decision was a miscarriage of justice.

"I would just like some justice for my husband," said Rosalin Morgan.

A tearful Rosalind Morgan was reacting to the 40-year prison sentence given to her husband.

"Our family is in pain, and right now what's important is to free Howard Morgan and bring him home," said Iane Jennings-Morgan, Howard Morgan's daughter.

A now 61-year-old Morgan sat quietly in court, saying before Cook County Judge Clayton Crane handed down a sentence in connection with the 2005 incident, "God bless my wife and family. It's all in God's hands."

Morgan was an officer for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Line and was off-duty when he was pulled over by officers for driving the wrong way on a one-way street.

What happened next depends on who you ask.

"He pulled out a gun and shot at officers 17 times," said Michael Shields, representing the Fraternal Order of Police. "He hit three officers. He deserves to go to prison."

Prosecutors say Morgan, a former Chicago cop himself, began shooting at officers when they tried to arrest him, but his supporters say the incident and verdict smacks of racism.

"There were only two African Americans on the jury, and the rest of them white," said Morgan supporter Zoe Young. "There is an injustice to that."

During his victim's impact statement, Officer John Wrigley angrily said, as dozens of his fellow officers looked on, "You shot me, Mr. Morgan. You came close to ending my life."

Morgan was hospitalized for seven months and was later charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and aggravated discharge of a firearm at a police officer.

In 2007, a jury acquitted Morgan of most of the charges, but deadlocked on the attempted murder charges. A judged declared a mistrial and Morgan was tried again.

This time he was found guilty of attempted murder. The jury was not allowed to hear about Morgan's prior acquittal.

"When a judge disregards a law that was written and passed, and yet says double jeopardy is not double jeopardy," said Bishop Connie Bansa, Morgan's pastor.

Supporters of Howard Morgan say jurors did not hear all the evidence and that he was never tested for gun residue.

The group, Change.org, has begun a petition drive to get Morgan's conviction overturned.

Morgan's family is pursuing a civil lawsuit in federal court against the officers.