HOUSTON - Civil rights activists say another case of a black man being treated unjustly by police has left a Houston man with serious injuries. Now an investigation is underway after the man was severely burned.
Two Houston METRO police officers are under investigation after they allegedly forced a man to lay in the street for nearly 30 minutes in the August Houston heat, leaving his belly covered in burns.
"They laid this brother on the ground while he was begging let me up, let me up. I'm burning, I'm burning,” says Community Activist Quanell X.
Images of the damage done to Harvey Morgan are disturbing. Morgan says he suffered the severe burns after Houston METRO Police officers handcuffed him and left him lying in the street for 27 minutes on August 14, 2020.
“They forced him to lay on that ground while he was being burned alive,” says Quanell.
"I was treated like an animal. I had third-degree burns. I had to get surgery,” explains 36-year-old Morgan.
"I guarantee you if somebody made a dog lay on the hot Houston ground and be burned like this man was burned that officer would be locked up. He would be fired,” adds Quanell.
"Enough is enough. The police is supposed to protect us and serve us,” says activist Cynthia Pharms.
A number of Community Activists gathered with Morgan outside METRO headquarters calling for the officers to be terminated and charged.
"We are currently reviewing all of the body cams and police reports to determine exactly what occurred on August 14th,” explains METRO Police Chief Vera Bumpers who admits she just found out about the incident from Quanell X. "Why it was not reported, why didn't we have any information, will be part of the investigation."
Morgan encountered the two METRO officers after his wife called 911, saying she was in the car Morgan was driving and he was having a “mental breakdown.” The Morgans stopped their vehicle by a METRO Transit Center.
"The officer detained him there on the ground to try to get him to stop resisting,” says Chief Bumpers.
"It burned a hole in this man's stomach the size of a grapefruit. It burned through the flesh,” says Quanell.
Morgan says the officers didn't immediately get him medical help but took him to jail instead. "The jail looked at him and said get him out of here. Obviously he didn't commit a crime. The crime that was committed was actually committed against him,” Quanell says.
Morgan says after more than a month, he still has a hole in his stomach and expects a long road of healing.
The two METRO officers are now on desk duty pending the outcome of the investigation. One's been on the force a year. The other for four years.
MPD Chief Vera Bumpers released this statement regarding the incident:
"After learning of this incident, I immediately launched an internal investigation and placed the two officers in question on desk duty, pending the outcome of that investigation. At this point, investigators are still gathering the facts of the case and reviewing all evidence, including bodycam video. MPD has strict guidelines concerning use of force and does not, under any circumstances, condone excessive force. In this case, what we know is that the suspect was fleeing the scene of a traffic accident, tripped and fell while running. The footage we have reviewed does not indicate injuries to the torso area, but the suspect did appear to be bleeding from the head. When he refused to comply with officers' requests, he was detained while on the ground. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested by HPD for evading arrest.
MPD is constantly re-evaluating its policies and provides ongoing de-escalation training for officers to ensure we are protecting lives and property while enforcing the law. Quite a few details shared with media conflict with some of the early information we have which is why we must complete our investigation and refrain from making any more comments at this time."