Other Stephen Morgan Sues Wes

stephen morgan - cornellLast spring, in the immediate aftermath of the Broad Street shooting, the Middletown Police provided the Wes Public Affairs office with a photo of the suspect, Stephen Morgan…and we all noted how it looked nothing like the man in the surveillance camera footage.

After some finger-pointing between Wes and MPD, it was discovered that the initial photo was actually of a Cornell sociology professor by the name of…Stephen Morgan. That Stephen Morgan has now filed suit against the University, claiming he suffered “humiliation, mental anguish and emotional distress” because of the mix-up:

Connecticut State Police and Middletown officers supplied Wesleyan with an image of the Cornell professor, which they culled from a driver’s license database following the May 6 shooting death of Justin-Jinich in a bookstore near the Wesleyan campus. Investigators believed that the gunman was a 29-year-old Massachusetts man, and they obtained a photograph taken of Morgan while he was a student at Harvard University, said James K. Robertson, the professor’s attorney.

Police turned the photograph over to Wesleyan so that university officials could determine if Morgan had a connection with the school. Officers did not give the university permission to publish or release the image, the lawsuit says.

After Wesleyan circulated the photograph, it appeared on various news websites and was broadcast on CNN with a report saying “police believe he may be targeting the school and Jews,” according to the lawsuit.

On May 7, a Wesleyan employee noticed several comments posted on a university message board that said Morgan could not have been the killer because he is not 29 years old and doesn’t resemble the gunman depicted in surveillance photos. University officials met and decided that Morgan was not the suspect involved, the lawsuit says.

Corrina Kerr, associate director of media relations for Wesleyan, said Tuesday that the school does not comment on pending litigation.

Hartford Courant: Cornell Professor Sues Wesleyan Over Release of His Photo in Student’s Killing

80 thoughts on “Other Stephen Morgan Sues Wes

  1. David

    Steve Morgan’s CV:

    Phi Beta Kappa Harvard
    Rhodes Scholar
    Harvard PHD.
    Tenured Prof. at Cornell

    Poor disadvantaged guy’s life must have been ruined by that photo.

  2. David

    Steve Morgan’s CV:

    Phi Beta Kappa Harvard
    Rhodes Scholar
    Harvard PHD.
    Tenured Prof. at Cornell

    Poor disadvantaged guy’s life must have been ruined by that photo.

  3. David

    Steve Morgan’s CV:

    Phi Beta Kappa Harvard
    Rhodes Scholar
    Harvard PHD.
    Tenured Prof. at Cornell

    Poor disadvantaged guy’s life must have been ruined by that photo.

  4. Anon

    I second everything said in Beau’s comment #25.

    Family & Self, and then donate the rest to the scholarship fund.

    It would get you the justice you seek without hurting the students.

    That is if this goes through.

  5. Anon

    I second everything said in Beau’s comment #25.

    Family & Self, and then donate the rest to the scholarship fund.

    It would get you the justice you seek without hurting the students.

    That is if this goes through.

  6. Anon

    I second everything said in Beau’s comment #25.

    Family & Self, and then donate the rest to the scholarship fund.

    It would get you the justice you seek without hurting the students.

    That is if this goes through.

  7. CompleteUnknown

    I doubt this is the first time in US jurisprudence that an incorrect suspect photo had been released then redacted.

    Shit happens, move on.

  8. CompleteUnknown

    I doubt this is the first time in US jurisprudence that an incorrect suspect photo had been released then redacted.

    Shit happens, move on.

  9. CompleteUnknown

    I doubt this is the first time in US jurisprudence that an incorrect suspect photo had been released then redacted.

    Shit happens, move on.

  10. anon

    wesleyan is going to go with that flimsy defense, which no jury will accept. then, it is going to maintain that it is all the consequence of the action of the mpd, but that they are not actually blaming the mpd for the harm. and they are going to telegraph all of this brilliant strategy on a student website before the trial even begins, under the thin cover of ‘johnwesley’.

    for a university with a half-billion dollar endowment, you’d think wes would have an administration with better sense than this. no wonder they made such a stupid mistake in the first place.

    are there no trustees out there to take control of this insanity and protect wes from further damage to its already declining image? the ap story on this seems to have been picked up by more than 230 newspapers and websites already. how is that going to help with fundraising and student applications, which are heavily dependent on confidence in the current administration? weleyan should clean house first and then offer a settlement and hope it is accepted.

  11. anon

    wesleyan is going to go with that flimsy defense, which no jury will accept. then, it is going to maintain that it is all the consequence of the action of the mpd, but that they are not actually blaming the mpd for the harm. and they are going to telegraph all of this brilliant strategy on a student website before the trial even begins, under the thin cover of ‘johnwesley’.

    for a university with a half-billion dollar endowment, you’d think wes would have an administration with better sense than this. no wonder they made such a stupid mistake in the first place.

    are there no trustees out there to take control of this insanity and protect wes from further damage to its already declining image? the ap story on this seems to have been picked up by more than 230 newspapers and websites already. how is that going to help with fundraising and student applications, which are heavily dependent on confidence in the current administration? weleyan should clean house first and then offer a settlement and hope it is accepted.

  12. anon

    wesleyan is going to go with that flimsy defense, which no jury will accept. then, it is going to maintain that it is all the consequence of the action of the mpd, but that they are not actually blaming the mpd for the harm. and they are going to telegraph all of this brilliant strategy on a student website before the trial even begins, under the thin cover of ‘johnwesley’.

    for a university with a half-billion dollar endowment, you’d think wes would have an administration with better sense than this. no wonder they made such a stupid mistake in the first place.

    are there no trustees out there to take control of this insanity and protect wes from further damage to its already declining image? the ap story on this seems to have been picked up by more than 230 newspapers and websites already. how is that going to help with fundraising and student applications, which are heavily dependent on confidence in the current administration? weleyan should clean house first and then offer a settlement and hope it is accepted.

  13. johnwesley

    No one’s “blaming” MPD for anything. They were doing their jobs. And, not for nothing, I believe they’re protected by sovereign immunity.

  14. johnwesley

    No one’s “blaming” MPD for anything. They were doing their jobs. And, not for nothing, I believe they’re protected by sovereign immunity.

  15. johnwesley

    No one’s “blaming” MPD for anything. They were doing their jobs. And, not for nothing, I believe they’re protected by sovereign immunity.

  16. MPD defender

    Attacking the Middletown Police Department will do nothing but bring further shame upon Wesleyan.

    The reference of johnwesley @26 in his point (1) is to an 11:53am email from the Middletown Police Department to Wesleyan and media outlets. It contained the statement: “There is a photograph that is being circulated and aired of a suspect with glasses and a blue background. This photograph was not released by this agency and is NOT our suspect.”

    Good luck trying to convince a jury that the Middletown Police Department thought the photo of Stephen L. Morgan was a photo of their suspect (at any point and/or right up until 11:53am on that day). Stephen P. Morgan’s own father had identified him from the surveillance photo at 4:15am that morning. Is a jury supposed to believe that Stephen P. Morgan’s father was also shown the photo of Stephen L. Morgan and then that he also identified his son as the person in the photo of Stephen L. Morgan? Is a jury supposed to believe that Connecticut law enforcement releases photos of its suspects only indirectly through those associated with the victim? That certainly isn’t how they handled the other photos on that day, such as the security camera screen grab and the NYU id photo (both of which were directly and promptly released). A jury is very unlikely to believe that MPD decided to covertly release the photo of Stephen L. Morgan by passing it off to Wesleyan and then hoping that Wesleyan would release it. A jury will be much more likely to believe that Wesleyan acted recklessly and negligently in releasing a photo that was never of a suspect.

    And, in general, good luck trying to blame this all on the Middletown Police Department to a Connecticut jury. MPD may have been a bit late in telling Wesleyan to take the photo of Stephen L. Morgan off the Wesleyan website, but that was because they were busy investigating a crime and tracking a gunman at large in the community rather than policing Wesleyan’s reckless behavior.

    Discovery and depositions will clarify the “who, when, and why” of all of this. Perhaps some new revelation about the behavior of law enforcement will be revealed that will save Wesleyan’s bacon. It is much more likely that Wesleyan will find itself deeper in the hole it has dug for itself already, and the MPD will be entirely vindicated.

  17. MPD defender

    Attacking the Middletown Police Department will do nothing but bring further shame upon Wesleyan.

    The reference of johnwesley @26 in his point (1) is to an 11:53am email from the Middletown Police Department to Wesleyan and media outlets. It contained the statement: “There is a photograph that is being circulated and aired of a suspect with glasses and a blue background. This photograph was not released by this agency and is NOT our suspect.”

    Good luck trying to convince a jury that the Middletown Police Department thought the photo of Stephen L. Morgan was a photo of their suspect (at any point and/or right up until 11:53am on that day). Stephen P. Morgan’s own father had identified him from the surveillance photo at 4:15am that morning. Is a jury supposed to believe that Stephen P. Morgan’s father was also shown the photo of Stephen L. Morgan and then that he also identified his son as the person in the photo of Stephen L. Morgan? Is a jury supposed to believe that Connecticut law enforcement releases photos of its suspects only indirectly through those associated with the victim? That certainly isn’t how they handled the other photos on that day, such as the security camera screen grab and the NYU id photo (both of which were directly and promptly released). A jury is very unlikely to believe that MPD decided to covertly release the photo of Stephen L. Morgan by passing it off to Wesleyan and then hoping that Wesleyan would release it. A jury will be much more likely to believe that Wesleyan acted recklessly and negligently in releasing a photo that was never of a suspect.

    And, in general, good luck trying to blame this all on the Middletown Police Department to a Connecticut jury. MPD may have been a bit late in telling Wesleyan to take the photo of Stephen L. Morgan off the Wesleyan website, but that was because they were busy investigating a crime and tracking a gunman at large in the community rather than policing Wesleyan’s reckless behavior.

    Discovery and depositions will clarify the “who, when, and why” of all of this. Perhaps some new revelation about the behavior of law enforcement will be revealed that will save Wesleyan’s bacon. It is much more likely that Wesleyan will find itself deeper in the hole it has dug for itself already, and the MPD will be entirely vindicated.

  18. MPD defender

    Attacking the Middletown Police Department will do nothing but bring further shame upon Wesleyan.

    The reference of johnwesley @26 in his point (1) is to an 11:53am email from the Middletown Police Department to Wesleyan and media outlets. It contained the statement: “There is a photograph that is being circulated and aired of a suspect with glasses and a blue background. This photograph was not released by this agency and is NOT our suspect.”

    Good luck trying to convince a jury that the Middletown Police Department thought the photo of Stephen L. Morgan was a photo of their suspect (at any point and/or right up until 11:53am on that day). Stephen P. Morgan’s own father had identified him from the surveillance photo at 4:15am that morning. Is a jury supposed to believe that Stephen P. Morgan’s father was also shown the photo of Stephen L. Morgan and then that he also identified his son as the person in the photo of Stephen L. Morgan? Is a jury supposed to believe that Connecticut law enforcement releases photos of its suspects only indirectly through those associated with the victim? That certainly isn’t how they handled the other photos on that day, such as the security camera screen grab and the NYU id photo (both of which were directly and promptly released). A jury is very unlikely to believe that MPD decided to covertly release the photo of Stephen L. Morgan by passing it off to Wesleyan and then hoping that Wesleyan would release it. A jury will be much more likely to believe that Wesleyan acted recklessly and negligently in releasing a photo that was never of a suspect.

    And, in general, good luck trying to blame this all on the Middletown Police Department to a Connecticut jury. MPD may have been a bit late in telling Wesleyan to take the photo of Stephen L. Morgan off the Wesleyan website, but that was because they were busy investigating a crime and tracking a gunman at large in the community rather than policing Wesleyan’s reckless behavior.

    Discovery and depositions will clarify the “who, when, and why” of all of this. Perhaps some new revelation about the behavior of law enforcement will be revealed that will save Wesleyan’s bacon. It is much more likely that Wesleyan will find itself deeper in the hole it has dug for itself already, and the MPD will be entirely vindicated.

  19. Some sense

    A lot of people here seem to be overlooking the fact that if Wesleyan had appropriately dealt with the situation in the first place then Prof. Morgan would have no reason to file a law suit. So who is responsible for the money Wesleyan loses? Wesleyan.

  20. Some sense

    A lot of people here seem to be overlooking the fact that if Wesleyan had appropriately dealt with the situation in the first place then Prof. Morgan would have no reason to file a law suit. So who is responsible for the money Wesleyan loses? Wesleyan.

  21. Some sense

    A lot of people here seem to be overlooking the fact that if Wesleyan had appropriately dealt with the situation in the first place then Prof. Morgan would have no reason to file a law suit. So who is responsible for the money Wesleyan loses? Wesleyan.

  22. johnwesley

    Steve, for the following reasons, you don’t want this to go to a jury:

    1) According to your own timeline of events, it took MPD until 12:00 the following afternoon to definitively state that the person pictured on your drivers license “was not a suspect” and,

    2) that by that time, the damage had already been done.

    In other words, Wesleyan’s culpability rests on the idea that it should have interpreted MPD’s actions in a way that would have been completely contrary to common sense: that a police department, in the middle of a murder investigation — where the suspect is still at-large, would hand a photo over to Wesleyan with the understanding that Wesleyan would shove it in a drawer someplace and not circulate it. Good luck with that.

    This is not to say, that I am unsympathetic to your position. Who wouldn’t be? But, I’m really not sure what would have qualified as a suitable apology under your rather stringent requirements. You castigate the Wesleyan representative who contacted you because he merely wanted “to express the regret of his institution.” Well, there you are: one person’s apology is another person’s defensive posture. Given the turn of subsequent events, can you blame them?

  23. johnwesley

    Steve, for the following reasons, you don’t want this to go to a jury:

    1) According to your own timeline of events, it took MPD until 12:00 the following afternoon to definitively state that the person pictured on your drivers license “was not a suspect” and,

    2) that by that time, the damage had already been done.

    In other words, Wesleyan’s culpability rests on the idea that it should have interpreted MPD’s actions in a way that would have been completely contrary to common sense: that a police department, in the middle of a murder investigation — where the suspect is still at-large, would hand a photo over to Wesleyan with the understanding that Wesleyan would shove it in a drawer someplace and not circulate it. Good luck with that.

    This is not to say, that I am unsympathetic to your position. Who wouldn’t be? But, I’m really not sure what would have qualified as a suitable apology under your rather stringent requirements. You castigate the Wesleyan representative who contacted you because he merely wanted “to express the regret of his institution.” Well, there you are: one person’s apology is another person’s defensive posture. Given the turn of subsequent events, can you blame them?

  24. johnwesley

    Steve, for the following reasons, you don’t want this to go to a jury:

    1) According to your own timeline of events, it took MPD until 12:00 the following afternoon to definitively state that the person pictured on your drivers license “was not a suspect” and,

    2) that by that time, the damage had already been done.

    In other words, Wesleyan’s culpability rests on the idea that it should have interpreted MPD’s actions in a way that would have been completely contrary to common sense: that a police department, in the middle of a murder investigation — where the suspect is still at-large, would hand a photo over to Wesleyan with the understanding that Wesleyan would shove it in a drawer someplace and not circulate it. Good luck with that.

    This is not to say, that I am unsympathetic to your position. Who wouldn’t be? But, I’m really not sure what would have qualified as a suitable apology under your rather stringent requirements. You castigate the Wesleyan representative who contacted you because he merely wanted “to express the regret of his institution.” Well, there you are: one person’s apology is another person’s defensive posture. Given the turn of subsequent events, can you blame them?

  25. Beau

    Steve,

    I’m sorry.

    I saw what appeared to be a change of opinion from the May 8 Courant report to the filing of your suit, and meant to add that to the discussion here.

    I can see how my post came off as negative (especially in the context of other comments on this post), and I did not intend for it to be. I was operating under the assumption that MPD released the photo (or authorized its release), and that the harm caused by your photo being associated with the other Stephen Morgan would diminish over time. I failed to consider your perspective, and for that I’m sorry.

    As for suggestions about how to use the jury award, I think you should pay your expenses, do something nice for you and your family, and consider donating what’s left to the Johanna Justin-Jinich scholarship fund. In that order.

  26. Beau

    Steve,

    I’m sorry.

    I saw what appeared to be a change of opinion from the May 8 Courant report to the filing of your suit, and meant to add that to the discussion here.

    I can see how my post came off as negative (especially in the context of other comments on this post), and I did not intend for it to be. I was operating under the assumption that MPD released the photo (or authorized its release), and that the harm caused by your photo being associated with the other Stephen Morgan would diminish over time. I failed to consider your perspective, and for that I’m sorry.

    As for suggestions about how to use the jury award, I think you should pay your expenses, do something nice for you and your family, and consider donating what’s left to the Johanna Justin-Jinich scholarship fund. In that order.

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