February , 2019

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Says Howard Morgan case ‘straw that broke camel’s back’

By Chinta Strausberg

First elected in 1996, the controversial Judge Clayton J. Crane has been endorsed by the Cook County Democratic Party, but mayoral hopeful Robert Shaw is urging African Americans and “fair-minded” white voters to dump the controversial judge who is seeking retention on November 4th.

Shaw, who made his comments during his Sunday WVON talk show, said Crane, who is a former Cook County assistant state’s attorney,  “should not be re-elected because he presided over the trial of Morgan Howard” a black former Chicago policeman then current railroad detective who was shot 28 times by four white Chicago policemen.

But the Cook County Democratic Party is way ahead of Shaw having already put out a huge approved party sample ballot asking votes to punch 226 to retain Judge Crane. However, Shaw is urging blacks to punch 227 he says is a ‘no’ vote.

“Judge Crane has a long history of mistreating African Americans, and his handling of the Howard Morgan case is the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as black people are concerned. I am urging blacks and fair-minded whites to vote 227 by his name which is a no vote because he needs to be off that bench,” Shaw said.

Morgan, then 53 with no criminal history, was shot by Chicago policemen, John Wrigley, Eric White, Timothy Finley and Nicolas Olsen on February 21, 2005 going down a wrong street near his home.

The police shot Morgan, a former Chicago policeman and then current detective for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, 28 times mostly in his back claiming he fired first—a charge Morgan and a lone eyewitness deny. A jury acquitted Morgan on the discharging of a firearm charge.

Morgan survived and was charged with aggravated battery, attempted murder and discharging a firearm. In 2007, Morgan was found not guilty of battery or firing a gun, but no verdict was return on the attempted murder charge. So, the states attorney’s office tried him a second time leading to his conviction in 2012 and ultimate sentencing to 40-years in prison.

While Judge Kathleen Mary Pantie had set Morgan’s bail at $2 million despite Morgan’s lawyer, Sam Adam, Jr.’s request for a lower bond, it was Judge Crane who upheld the $2 million bond.

Morgan’s 2007 trial where he was found guilty of attempted murder was an emotional one with blacks accusing the cops of murder. Morgan, whose wife, Rosalind, had raised $12,000 towards his $2 million bond and who received the balance of the $2 million from an anonymous person,went back to jail having had his bond revoked after the guilty verdict.

Morgan swore he never shot at the police, and David Protess, president, Chicago Innocence Project, is still asking a myriad of questions like “Why wasn’t a gunshot residue test done of Morgan’s hands” after the shooting? “Why was Morgan’s car destroyed before forensic testing could be conducted, including of the bullets that pierced it? Why were only three bullets preserved from the dozens of rounds fired, as Morgan’s advocates claim?

“Under the circumstances, how do we know whether any of the remaining bullets that hit Morgan were fired form his own weapon by police”? asked Protess.

Even more troubling for Protess and the black community was the question “Why was Morgan shot 21 times while his back was turned? Weren’t seven direct its to his front torso enough to subdue him? And, was race a factor in the shooting”?asked Protess. He added, “The first question goes to the issue of who is truly responsible for attempted murder…Morgan or the cops who repeatedly shot him”?

Flipping the script, Protess asked, “Would the case have been handled differently if the four officers were black West Siders and the shooting victim was a white Gold Coast resident”?

The key question remains—did Howard Morgan receive due process of law or was the fix already in?

Many people continue to fight for his release and to sign this on-line petition launched by Change.org <a>http://www.change.org/p/please-help-us-free-howard-morgan</a>;.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.

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