Last week, the Philadelphia D.A. announced that she would not be moving forward to press charges — at this time — because of a lack of credible witnesses. She did, however, say during the press conference that she was comfortable that she knew who fired the gun.
This matches up with what my sources in Philly have told me, which is basically that everyone knows Marvin Harrison pulled the trigger, but the D.A.’s office is worried about the credibility of the witnesses in what would no doubt be a high profile prosecution.
Most people, including me, thought that meant the credibility of Dwight Dixon. Dixon was one of the victims of the April 2008 shooting who claims that Harrison was the shooter, but who also filed a false police report immediately after the shooting took place. According to a new article published on ESPN.com today, the Philly D.A. is actually in possession of another statement from a second victim who corroborates Dixon’s claim that Harrison was the shooter.
The second witness is Robert Nixon, who was hit in the back by a ricochet of one of the shots. Like Dixon, Nixon told police one thing immediately after the shooting took place, and then changed his mind a short while later. On May 2nd, presumably four days after telling police he knew nothing, Robert Nixon signed a statement saying he was certain that Marvin Harrison was indeed the man who fired the gun.
Lynne Abraham, the Philadelphia D.A., addressed Nixon’s contradictory statements during her press conference, saying that he had admitted to fabricating many of the details in his first statement. According to ESPN, their law enforcement source, who has seen a second statement by Nixon, says that the many of the details have changed, but that Nixon’s citation of Harrison as the shooter remains consistent.
So…what does this mean?
Essentially nothing in the immediate future, because Abraham has already decided to not to move forward with charges against Marvin Harrison. However, it could be a harbinger of future headaches for the future Hall of Famer.
One of the reasons why Dwight Dixon’s story has been seen as less than credible is because he was all over the place in the stories he gave to police immediately after the shooting. He gave two false accounts of how he was shot, one to the hospital where he received treatment and the a different one to police. Once he was confronted with the ballistic evidence from the gun, he finally came forward with the current version of his story: that he and Harrison had gotten into an argument and physical altertcation, and that Harrison had shot him.
Now, according to this ESPN source, Robert Nixon’s current story matches up with Dwight Dixon’s current story. The problem for Abraham is that their initial stories were contradictory. This is a major part of the reason why she claims the case is not strong to present in front of a grand jury.
And there is another interesting contradiction pointed out by ESPN.
Harrison had registered a weapon matching that description, but told police he did not have the gun with him in Philadelphia on April 29 and that the weapon had not been fired in at least one year. Ballistics tests later confirmed that five spent bullet shells found at the crime scene came from Harrison’s gun.
Yet, Abraham never addressed this contradiction during her press conference. My question is why? Seems pretty germane to me.
As cited in this article on Philly.com, Dwight Dixon’s lawyer Robert Gamburg, and others who are involved with the Marvin Harrison shooting investigation, are miffed as to why the D.A. would not be moving forward even with the contradictory statements by the witnesses.
â€œItâ€™s mind-boggling,â€ Gamburg said. â€œI can name 15 district attorneys who would have been more than willing to go to court with the evidence they had and present the case.â€
Opting not to file criminal charges because of credibility issues “would eliminate about 85 percent of the murder prosecutions in the city of Philadelphia,â€ Gamburg added.
Abrahamâ€™s announcement disappointed some in law enforcement. â€œWe feel like theyâ€™re just afraid someone will come in here and make them look silly,â€ said a police source who worked on the case.
â€œNothing is ever a sure thing when you go to trial, but that doesnâ€™t mean you back off,â€ the source said.
Lost in the hubbub over the D.A.’s press conference last week, and her announcement that no criminal charges were being filed, are a few important points:
- Somehow, Marvin Harrison has avoided liability for the fact that police have proven that a gun registered to him was used in a shooting. Whether he is proven to be the shooter or not, one would think that Harrison would face some kind of liability for the fact that shots were fired from his gun.
- Marvin Harrison still faces a civil suit filed by Dwight Dixon. As part of the civil trial process, Harrison will be forced to sit for depositions. These could occur in the next six weeks.
- While Abraham said no charges were being filed right now, she left the door open to charges being filed in the future. She said that she will review the depositions and claimed the criminal investigation is still an “open issue.”
So, there is the latest update in the Marvin Harrison shooting investigation. I admit, not a whole lot of fresh news to report. However, with so many people and fans essentially considering the Harrison investigation “closed” after the press conference from last week, this new report should give pause. Harrison is by no means out of the woods — he just faces no formal criminal charges.
I know that Colts fans will start yelping that the whole story is bunk because the witnesses’ stories have oscillated, and false information has been filed with police; but guess what? Marvin Harrison’s own story has proven to be untrue, or at the very least, malleable. He said that his gun had not been fired, yet the ballistics evidence proved that it had. Plus, Abraham even said that statements made by Harrison had been deemed to be “untrustworthy and sometimes false.” So Marvin Harrison is no more credible than the other witnesses over whom the Philadelphia’s D.A. office is waffling.
Many casual followers of this case, and fans of Marvin Harrison, will consider his claims to be more credible; but ask yourself this: who has more to lose in this case?
Marvin Harrison is a multi-millionaire, an NFL star, and a future Hall of Fame wide receiver. He has every reason to cover up his alleged role in the shooting, if he was indeed involved. Dwight Dixon and Robert Nixon are, according to one source, just your average Philadelphia-area thugs. I think it is reasonable to consider that they might have been afraid to come forward initially against Harrison, who because of his success, money, and stature exerts a great deal of influence and control over his area in Philadelphia.
To me, it makes perfect, logical sense why Dixon and Nixon would initially be hesitant about ratting out Harrison. If Harrison really was the shooter, what would prevent him from coming after them later, or having someone else do it, as retribution for their testimony? With time to reflect, however, both Dixon and Nixon have, reportedly, provided independent accounts that corroborate the primary issue at hand in this case: that Marvin Harrison pulled the trigger.
I am absolutely speculating right now, but doing so based on information from sources I’ve contacted and from the media reports floating out there. Too much smoke is wafting through the air for there not to be a fire.
So before you go accusing me of beating a dead horse or making a big deal over nothing, understand that from my perspective an NFL player tried to shoot someone and has not been held liable in any way. If I thought Harrison was innocent, I would have dropped it already. I am just so sick and tired of NFL players acting like fools, getting into trouble, and seeming to believe that the laws and rules don’t apply to them; and for the most part, this story has been swept under the rug.
“But he has not faced any charges” the arguments go. And they are correct. Marvin Harrison has not faced charges yet. But if all of the evidence seems to point to the fact that he should face charges, and I personally believe that he should face charges, should I just forget about the case and move on?
You may think so. I don’t.
Stories of athletes and gun permeate sports and overshadow many of the positive, uplifting stories that we should be focusing on. I will grant you that I am one of the few still advancing this story of an athlete and a gun; but I am doing so only because I think that until athletes have their feet held to the fire, and understand that they face real consequences just like everyone else, this problem will not disipate. When Pacman Jones can continue to be employed by the NFL up until just last week, there is a serious problem. And until fans who feel strongly voice their displeasure, and do so consistently, the Pacman Joneses of the world will continue to get fourth and fifth and sixth chances, and so on.
Plus, what is just about the vilification of Plaxico Burress for shooting himself, when Marvin Harrison has essentially gotten a free pass despite allegations that he shot somone else? No charges for Harrison — I know. Well guess what: accept my two cents for as much as you think it’s worth, but I think, based on a reasonable review of the available evidence, that Harrison was the shooter, and I think charges will eventually be filed. Until the Philadelphia D.A. comes out and says that the case is closed, and there is some type of reconciliation for Harrison’s own contradictions and the mounting evidence against him, I’ll keep talking about this story.
Now look — you may not believe me, but I would honestly like to be proven wrong. I’ve always liked Marvin Harrison, and my ultimate goal is for as much positive light to shine on the NFL as possible. Harrison’s vindication in this matter would remove one more black cloud from the league. However, if he truly is guilty, then I want to see justice served. Then, maybe the next time a superstar NFL player is faced with a basic choice of right or wrong — like shoot or not shoot — he will think twice and make the right choice.
The NFL is a living, breathing double standard. Violence is encouraged on the field, and is in fact a basic element of the game itself. However, players are expected to be able to flip that switch off when they walk outside of the white lines, and are compelled to do so by the laws of the land. If and when they violate the rules on the field, there are penalties that must be faced or fines that must be paid. The same is true off the field, and my only desire is to see a fair and just resolution if there is criminal liability on the part of Marvin Harrison in this case.
We most likely won’t know any more until the depositions have been given, but it certainly seems like there is much more of this story still to unfold. Flame me if you will for continuing to discuss the Marvin Harrson case, or for being outspoken with an opinion that is not currently backed up by the presence of any criminal charges. But I urge you to look a little deeper and make a logical assessment of this case. The court of public opinion is not governed by the same burden of proof as a courtroom.
If you simply dismiss this story and the allegations against Marvin Harrison offhand because you’d rather it be a non-story, or because you’d rather it just go away, I think you would only be making the same mistake that many people feel the D.A.’s office in Philadelphia is making. If you genuinely believe that Marvin Harrison is innocent, I have no problem with that whatsoever; nor can I prove you wrong with so many open questions still left to be answered.
Fortunately, most signs point to all of the unanswered questions being more clearly answered in the future, and to this “open issue” coming to a head. While Marvin Harrison was granted a temporary reprieve last week, there is still trouble brewing in the background for him. In the meantime, all opinions on this case have to be left in a holding pattern until something more definitive comes out than, “I’m pretty comfortable I know who fired the gun,” Abraham said. “But I’m not going to say because I don’t have the evidence.”
I’m pretty comfortable I know too, even from afar; and now we just have to wait for the evidence to play out. But nothing about this case is closed or decided, and I caution you to reassess your opinion if you think last week’s press conference provided any sort of vindication for Marvin Harrison.
I do hope that he is vindicated in the future. I just have very little reason to believe that will be the case.