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Metro PD investigating after man says officers held him on scalding ground for 27 minutes

Houston activist Quanell X demands justice

HOUSTON – An investigation is underway after a violent encounter between a man and multiple Metro police officers. The department says there was no evidence of injuries to Harvey Morgan’s torso area.

However, Morgan says he was left with severe burns on his body. He still has bandages wrapped around his torso where he suffered from third degree burns.

Morgan says he laid on the ground for 27 minutes screaming he was burning.

Metro chief Vera Bumpers says Activist Quanell X told her what happened earlier this week and she started an investigation.

“I just want justice on that day I was in shock,” said Morgan, speaking out for the first time Friday since his encounter with Metro police on Aug. 14.

“I was treated like an animal,” he said.

Morgan says he was having a mental breakdown at The Metro Transit Center in West Little York. His wife called 911. When police showed up, Morgan says he was handcuffed and laid on the concrete for over 20 minutes.

“He was begging, ‘Let me up. Let me up. I’m burning, I’m burning,’” said Quanell X.

Along with Quanell X, Cynthia Pharms and Dr. Candace Matthews with the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats are demanding justice for Morgan.

“These officers need to be terminated,” Quanell X said.

Quanell X shared a graphic photo of Morgan’s stomach where he suffered from third degree burning. Morgan stayed at the Hermann Hospital burn unit for eight days undergoing surgery.

“I just feel like I wasn’t treated fairly,” Morgan said.

Metro investigation

On Friday, Bumper addressed the incident involving Morgan. She said the officers responded to a crash in the area, and that the officers tried to ask Morgan what happened.

“He started to run. Once he started to run, he tripped and fell, and the officer was trying to ask what him was going on,” Bumpers said.

Bumpers said when the Houston police arrived, Morgan was arrested for evading arrest.

“What we saw on the body cam, there was no evidence of any injuries,” Bumper said.

Bumpers said both officers are on desk duty pending the investigation. One officer has been with Metro police for over four years, and the second officer has been with the department a little over a year.

According to court documents, Morgan is still facing a charge for evading arrest.

The following is a statement from Metro Police Chief Vera Bumpers regarding an incident involving Harvey Morgan:

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.

Chief Vera Bumpers

METRO Police Department