Eric Morgan, the man accused with his brother in connection with the Chicago police shooting of Officer Ella French and her partner, received probation and served no jail time in 2019 on a felony robbery case out of Dane County, Wisconsin, that was reduced to felony theft, court records show.
The criminal complaint, which you can read later in this story, describes how Morgan and his cousin robbed a group of people together in Madison at gunpoint during a drug deal. The cousin, Jarreon Cunningham, was described as the one with the gun by most witnesses. The gun was located at their grandmother’s house in Madison, the complaint says. A detective found that Morgan’s cousin’s iPhone “contained numerous photographs of Cunningham and Morgan, drugs, money, and guns.”
Heavy asked the Dane County DA Ismael Ozanne why the charge against Eric Morgan was downgraded and which sentence the prosecutor recommended.
Ozanne told Heavy in an email, “It is my understanding the Armed Robber count associated to Mr. Morgan was amended to a Felony Theft from Person. At the time the case was resolved Mr. Morgan did not have a criminal history known to the State. The evidence also did not place a weapon in Mr. Morgan’s possession during the incident. The State recommended three (3) years of probation with 100 days jail as a condition.”
However, Judge Ellen Berz gave Morgan even less time than prosecutors requested – three years’ probation and 30 days jail time that she stayed, meaning he didn’t have to serve it if he completed AODA treatment and schooling. Wisconsin Circuit Court records show that Eric Morgan, 22, was indeed charged with felony armed robbery as a party to the crime, a class C felony, in Dane County, but the charge was dismissed on a prosecutor’s motion. Instead, he was convicted of Theft-Movable Property fr. Person/Corpse, a class G felony. The original charge carried a possible penalty of 40 years in prison, and the reduced charge 10.
Berz is a former public defender who ousted an incumbent judge who was an appointee of former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. She also worked as an UW-Madison adjunct professor. She is a controversial judge who was previously criticized by Dane County victims’ advocates for her comments about sexual assault and domestic violence victims.
Heavy has reached out to the head of the Chicago police union, Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge #7, for comment, and it will be added into this story if received.
Although the DA said the gun mattered in the decision to reduce the charge against Eric Morgan, court records say that the co-actor in the incident, Jarreon Cunningham, also received a reduced charge from robbery to theft despite allegations he possessed the gun during the robbery.
Asked why Cunningham’s charge was also amended, Ozanne responded, “I will check with the ADA who is out today so I may not have a definitive answer for you till Monday….Both were originally charged with Armed Robbery PTAC. It appears at the time of the incident both had no criminal history (juvenile or adult). The original offer for Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Morgan was for a plea to Felony Theft from Person the State would cap argument at 2 years initial confinement or the recommendation from the Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI) which ever was less. Looks like Mr. Cunningham got probation for five (5) years with eight (8) months jail as condition time with some stayed for potential treatment and school/HSED enrolment/completion.”
Cunningham received eight months in jail as a condition of probation, but the judge stayed two months of it. He also received probation and eventually moved to Arkansas.
Cunningham was not accused in connection with the Chicago police shootings; authorities say that Morgan was with his brother, Emonte Morgan, in that incident, which culminated in the death of French and left her partner fighting for his life. Authorities say that Emonte Morgan was the triggerman, and Eric Morgan was driving the car and ditched the murder weapon, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.
In connection with the Chicago police shootings, Emonte Morgan is charged with first-degree murder of a peace officer, two counts of attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. Eric Morgan is charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and obstruction of justice. Police Superintendent David Brown said that the murder weapon was acquired by Eric Morgan through a straw purchaser because he had a felony conviction, which a federal complaint says was out of Wisconsin. That’s the downgraded theft charge.
The brothers’ social media accounts also reveal that they have ties to Madison, Wisconsin, through their grandmother, who lives there. They posted videos in Madison, and Eric Morgan wrote that he attended a Madison high school.
According to CBS Local, Emonte Morgan was also on probation “after pleading guilty to a 2019 robbery charge.” He does not have a Wisconsin criminal history.
Here’s what you need to know:
What the Dane County Criminal Complaint Says
You can read the Dane County criminal complaint against Eric Morgan here.
The complaint lists Morgan’s address as an apartment on Gammon Road in Madison.
It says that both Morgan and Cunningham were originally charged with armed robbery party to a crime, which is a felony punishable by up to 40 years in prison.
According to the complaint:
On June 1, 2018 at about 4:26 p.m., Madison police officers were dispatched for a disturbance. Four people in a Toyota approached the officer. A female told the officer they were robbed at gunpoint.
The suspect descriptions were short dreads and another with short hair with a Chicago black hoodie.
The officer spoke to another member of the group who said he was sitting in the car when two black male suspects approached the vehicle on foot.
The suspect with the gun said, “Yo what’s up what’s going on” and pulled out a gun, pointing it at all the vehicle occupants and saying “give me your money.”
The suspect was the gun was described as a black male in his early twenties with shirt hair, wearing a black hoodie with the words, “STRAIGHT OUT OF/OUTTA CHICAGO.” He had gray shorts and a black 9 mm baby handgun that he “racked,” putting a round in the chamber. It had been on his waistband.
The second suspect had short dreads.
The complainant told police he was scared and didn’t want anyone to get shot so he handed all the cash he had to the first suspect, $180. Another member of the group described the suspect similarly, as wearing a black hoodie from Chicago.
He said that they had been at BP the night before and had given one of the suspects a ride and one of the suspects and victims had been calling each other throughout the day.
The subject with the dreads said, “gimme your money.”
This person said it was the subject with the dreads who pulled out a black handgun.
Another passenger said the suspect with the straight out of Chicago shirt produced a black handgun and pointed it at a person, “straight at their faces.”
He said one of the suspect’s names was Eric Morgan.
Officers then found the suspect vehicle at an apartment.
They spoke to Morgan’s grandmother who said her grandsons were driving her car. They were Cunningham and Eric Morgan.
The complaint says Cunningham matched the description of suspect one and Morgan matched the description of suspect 2.
Officers searched the bedrooms where the woman said her grandsons stayed. They found a 9mm handgun in a plastic bin in bedroom 1. The magazine had 12 unfired cartridges. They also found a black hoodie with Straight outta Chicago in bedroom 2.
The suspect with the dreads was identified as Eric Morgan. One of the victims then told police, that they were “trying to buy weed.”
The purchase was supposed to be $180.
One of the victims said, “I knew the gun was real and I was definitely scared. I have never had a gun pointed at my face.”
The handgun came back as stolen out of Madison, Wisconsin.
Morgan told police he and Cunningham met the victims at the gas station. He said he told the group that he could get them some weed and they trailed him to another street and then got a “little dub” and took off, the complaint alleges.
Cunningham told police that he got a call from the victims that they would be there soon. He said he and his cousin Eric Morgan were there and that the victims handed him the $180.
Cunningham admitted he was the person communicating with the victims relating to a drug deal involving marijuana.
French was previously identified as the 29-year-old Chicago police officer who was shot and killed in a traffic stop on August 7, 2021. She was remembered as a dedicated public servant and “humanitarian” who possessed “attributes that you don’t find in this world anymore.”
Those descriptors came from her brother to the Chicago Tribune the day after the shooting that also left French’s partner fighting for his life in critical condition.
Brown, speaking in a news conference the day after the shooting, asked Chicago residents to “wrap their arms around our police officers and encourage them to continue their great work in protecting us all.” He added, “Officers need this city to pray for their strength, to pray for peace, that they are comforted and that their families are comforted.” [Keith Thornton, a Chicago police dispatcher, is being praised for his handling of the tragedy. You can read more about that and listen to dispatch audio here.] Brown said police have recovered 7,536 guns this year, a 23% increase over the same period a year ago. The night after the shootings, Chicago police recovered an additional 33 guns. “Let that sink in because every encounter that recovers a gun is a potential deadly force encounter,” said Brown.
The brothers’ mother is now accused of causing a disturbance at the hospital where Emonte Morgan is being treated, according to CBS Chicago, which reported that Evalena Flores was arrested on Tuesday morning.
Emonte Morgan Opened Fire With an Illegal Gun During a Traffic Stop for Expired Plates & Eric Dumped the Gun in a Yard After the Shootings, Authorities Say
On Saturday, August 7, 2021, at 9 p.m., officers assigned to a community safety team “conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle with three occupants. There were also three officers in the same car that stopped these three occupants,” said Brown. “Officers were fired upon and they returned fire. One of our officers was struck by one of the offenders’ bullets and sustained a fatal gunshot wound.” Brown says they were initially stopped over expired plates.
Emonte Morgan “struggled with both officers… the struggle went from the trunk of the car to near the insides of the car and the shots rang out from that vantagepoint, from the passenger front seat of the car, which is where he was originally seated,” said Brown. Authorities say that Eric Morgan tried to flee the scene.
Brown said the suspected gunman was also shot and a weapon was recovered.
Authorities say Eric Morgan admitted having marijuana, so Officer French asked him to exit the car; they say Emonte began struggling with the officers while Eric tried to run off, but he was caught by a third officer. According to CBS Local, Emonte Morgan “handed the gun to his brother, who ran off, before he was detained by witnesses who caught him in a nearby yard, where he had dumped the gun,” prosecutors say.
According to Brown, French had three and a half years on the Chicago police force. She started on the job in April of 2018, he said. Her partner who was shot has six years on the force.
“Despite the shock, grief, pain and sorrow we feel this morning, our brothers and sisters in blue put this uniform on each and every day. They go to work risking everything to serve the people of Chicago,” Brown said.
“They come to work, willing to run toward danger, toward gunfire and they’re willing to sacrifice their lives to save the lives of perfect strangers. They went to work today. After last night’s tragic events, officers are working now. Right now, continuing this brave, courageous work of protecting the people of Chicago. It’s in the honor of our lost officers that we work, that we sacrifice, that we serve, that we risk everything.”
He added, “A new shift of officers grieving and heartbroken will do the same thing tonight and tomorrow night and each and every night they serve. They go down dark alleys no one would go down. They confront violent offenders no one would confront… we are all made safe, and we sleep well at night because of these brave men and women.”
The injured officer is “incrementally improving,” said Brown.
Without these kinds of traffic stops, Chicago wouldn’t be safe, according to Brown. “Officers put themselves in harm’s way stopping suspects like this… these are dangerous people who don’t mind killing officers or people in Chicago,” he said.
The gun used in this shooting was “illegally possessed and was the product of a straw purchase,” Brown said in the news conference.
Jamel Danzy of Hammond, Indiana, purchased the firearm at a federal firearms dealer in Hammond in March, authorities allege. He falsely identified himself as the actual buyer, they say. “he was actually the straw purchaser who bought the gun” at the request of Eric Morgan, who had a felony prohibiting him from buying it for himself, said Brown.
Danzy is charged with conspiracy to violate federal firearms laws, said Brown. He’s facing five years in prison. You can read the Danzy complaint here.
“Danzy admitted that when he purchased Firearm A for Individual A in Indiana, DANZY knew that Individual A lived in Illinois. Specifically, DANZY said that, prior to purchasing Firearm A for Individual A, DANZY knew that Individual A lived in Chicago and that DANZY had driven Individual A to Individual A’s residence in Chicago,” the complaint says.
The complaint says of Eric Morgan, “DANZY knew that Individual A could not legally purchase or possess a firearm due to a criminal conviction in Wisconsin.” Danzy was released from jail on bond, which upset the police superintendent, according to CBS News. According to CBS Chicago, he is a teacher’s aide with no criminal history who told the station he is “devastated.”
“I mean, things happen. Things happen for the wrong reason. I really don’t want to talk more about it. It happened, so I’m out, and I’m happy that I’m out and everything – so I’m happy to see my family. I’m not a criminal. I’m a good person,” Danzy told CBS Chicago.
Emonte’s Instagram page shows him smoking, flashing what appear to be gang signs, flashing a wad of cash, and posing with a young child. “Miss you blood,” he wrote with a photo of another man. One video on his page from 40 weeks ago is captioned Madison, Wisconsin. Eric’s Facebook page’s top post is an angry comment at a man accused in the murder of a Chicago woman.
In 2018, Eric wrote of Emonte, “BLOOD GO CRAZY GO SUBSCRIBE TO HIS MUSIC WE TAKING OFF 🤟😈🤣.”