40 Years For Former Railroad Cop On Conviction Of Shooting At Police
UPDATED 04/05/12 6:45 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) -- A former railroad police detective was sentenced to 40 years in prison Thursday for attempted murder, convicted of shooting at Chicago Police officers who fired back several times.
CBS 2's Marissa Bailey reports the sentence was handed down early Thursday afternoon.
Former Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad police Detective Howard Morgan, 61, was convicted last January of trying to kill four Chicago Police officers during a traffic stop in 2005.
Chicago Police officers pulled Morgan over for driving the wrong way down a one-way street near 19th Street and Lawndale Avenue on Feb. 21, 2005, according to published reports. Morgan was convicted of pulling out his service weapon and firing at officers, who returned fire. Morgan had 28 wounds but survived.
In his first trial, Morgan was acquitted of three counts, but the jury deadlocked on the charge of attempted murder. In his second trial that ended in January, Morgan was convicted of that charge.
Morgan's wife, Rosalind, called the guilty verdict shocking. She also said claims in the story by Chicago Police are not true.
"He never fired his weapon. There was no gun residue on his hand, and he didn't fire his weapon. They shot him 21 times in the back parts of his body and seven times in the front, and left him there in a puddle of blood," Rosalind Morgan told CBS 2's Roseanne Tellez. "He made it then, and God will allow him to make it again."
Morgan's supporters also point out that he is African-American, while the four Chicago Police officers involved in the incident are white.
Supporters of Morgan call him a police brutality victim.
A Change.org petition to free Morgan has gathered more than 8,700 signatures. The petition claims that in being convicted in a second trial, Morgan was a victim of double jeopardy and his Constitutional rights were violated.
The petition also claims that Morgan "was never tested for gun residue to confirm if he even fired a weapon on the morning in question," and that has van was "crushed and destroyed without notice or cause before any forensic investigation could be done."
A Chicago police officer injured in the shootout spoke exclusively to Bailey. Officer John Wrigley was shot in the chest and the arm by bullets from Morgan's gun.
The more than 10-year veteran on the Chicago police force, who is white, disagrees with Morgan's supporters, who say race played a role in the case.
"It was made out to be that it was about race, and I think that was for a variety of reasons," Wrigley said.
"Me, knowing the exact facts of that night, I know that this was the rightful verdict," he said. "I know that the sentence was fair, and I'm comfortable with that and I will go home tonight and continue to serve as a Chicago police officer."
Wrigley said he decided to talk Thursday because police officers aren't allowed to make statements during ongoing investigations. All four of the police officers wounded by Morgan in 2005 read statements in court during sentencing.
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