Marvin Harrison May Not Be In The Clear After All??
Remember back in the spring of 2008 when the story broke about Marvin Harrison allegedly being involved in the shooting of a Philadelphia man just steps away from Harrison’s bar? Well, not much came of it then for Harrison (the Philadelphia DA ultimately didn’t pursue the case). A healthy debate then ensued about how the press had covered the event – basically everybody accused everybody else of making assumptions and that ultimately, Harrison had done nothing to warrant being scrutinized by either a court of law (there were no charges, after all) or the court of public opinion.
Not so fast, perhaps. The man who was shot that April, 2008 day was a notorious North Philadelphia drug dealer named Dwight Dixon. His car had been sprayed with bullets by a gun registered to former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison. Turns out, Dixon was murdered this past July just blocks away from where the 2008 incident took place. Coincidence? Who knows, but but according to a recent ESPN report, the Philadelphia Police has enlisted the help of the FBI to determine if the two incidents may be related, which in part means the 2008 case will be reevaluated and with heavier scrutiny.
Jason Fagone, a writer for GQ magazine, is the man responsible for us even discussing this. Fagone, in a search for more answers than were provided by the initial hollow investigation in ’08, did some good old fashioned journalistic dirty work in Philadelphia. His article is fascinating and well worth your time. I’ll just leave it at that and let Fagone fill you in on the rest. He joined 710 ESPN in Seattle to talk about his investigative journalism and what he thinks may transpire in the coming months and years for the former Indianapolis Colts receiver.
On what prompted him to look in to this case in the first place and what he was attempting to learn by doing so:
“Well I basically just tried to dig in to the events that got so much attention in April of 2008. There was a shooting in North Philadelphia – five casings that were recovered were later traced to the barrel of a gun that was owned by Marvin Harrison. And there were a lot of questions that were raised from that, and ultimately the District Attorney of Philadelphia said that she couldn’t press charges against Harrison because she ultimately didn’t really know what happened. She said that there were nine different versions of events that digging into the records, I found there actually was the beginning of a truth here that you could actually find and untangle…police and prosecutors collected from the multiple witnesses to the shooting, and that the events were not coherent and they couldn’t really untangle the sort of massive lies and deceptions from witnesses that they didn’t believe were credible. So, the main question that I was trying to answer in the reporting was is that really true? Is this really something that nobody could ever get to the bottom of or is there actually some discoverable truth here?
On if any of the nine varied witnesses stories led anywhere but to Marvin Harrison being the man behind the April 2008 shootings:
“Well here’s the thing – there are conflicting details and witnesses who describe the shooting who disagree about what happened. There are also some witnesses for self-serving reasons changed pieces of their story after the fact, after they talked to police. You know, that’s part of what made it part for prosecutors to bring the case. You can certainly understand…you know, there were no witnesses that were Harvard educated, church goers and you certainly see a jury looking at the witnesses and saying I don’t believe anything this guy would tell me. But, it wasn’t a case where you had to believe a witness necessarily. That was sort of the remarkable thing that I found. You actually had a great deal of physical evidence in this case, starting with the gun. Marvin Harrison owned a Fabrique Nationale 5.7 Herstal Tactical pistol – it’s a pretty nasty gun and casings found at the scene were conclusively traced back to this gun. That’s pretty strong physical evidence that the gun was there on the scene. In addition to that, you had a statement that Marvin Harrison gave to the police in the presence of his attorney which is you know, I looked at the statement, it is a remarkable document. Marvin Harrison incriminates himself thoroughly in the statement. He basically tells police that yes that was my gun; yes it’s been in my possession the entire time that I’ve owned it; no it’s never been fired since I bought it in 2006 or 2007; where has it been all that time? It’s been in a locked safe in my suburban house in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania and I haven’t given it to anybody else or lent it away; in fact it’s been in my possession since I surrendered it to you. There are a couple of things that are wrong with that – obviously the gun had to have been fired since he bought it since the casings were covered at the scene. So the story that Harrison is telling the police just frankly doesn’t make any sense.”
On why Dwight Dixon didn’t just go straight to the police after his car was littered with bullets:
“That is a great question. There are three possible answers to that. One answer was that he was scared. Philadelphia is a tough town to be a witness to a crime and the Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported that 13 witnesses had been murdered for their willingness to testify against people who had committed crimes. Even if you are a 300 pound drug dealer like Dwight Dixon was, it’s not a simple thing to come forward and say you were witness to a crime. So maybe he was scared. Or maybe reason number two, he had had a gun himself and had shot back at Marvin Harrison. In that case, the last thing you want to do if you had just been in a firefight with Marvin Harrison is go straight to the police. And there actually were casings in Dwight Dixon’s truck that police believed suggested he did have a gun that day. Though in his statement, Harrison did say Dwight Dixon did not have a gun. So again you have conflicting information. The third reason that Dixon didn’t tell the police the truth immediately perhaps was because he wanted to take care of the situation himself in his own way; he didn’t want the police to get involved at all.”
On if he’s learned who Marvin Harrison is as a person through all of this:
“No, I don’t think anybody knows. He’s one of the most famously reticent and private people in the NFL. And there certainly is a side of him that is admirable – he is diligent, iron willed; he has always worked incredibly hard; he donated 88 turkeys one year to the poor of North Philadelphia; he is by all accounts a strong family man, his mother is hard working and loyal, and so is his stepfather; there’s a lot to admire about Marvin. But at the end of the day, the physical evidence is what it is and Marvin Harrison statement is what it is.”
On what happens next in this case:
“That’s another good question. As you know, ESPN reported last night that the Philadelphia Police Department has asked the FBI to investigate the subsequent victim of that April 2008 shooting, Dwight Dixon. Dixon was gunned down in June of 2009, half a block from Harrison’s bar and the FBI is apparently going to look in to it. I actually just talked to the spokesperson for the newly sworn in DA of Philadelphia, Seth Williams. Lynne Abraham, who declined to press charges is gone. Seth Williams is the new DA and according to his spokesperson, the firestorm of press coverage that was sparked by GQ story – along with inquiries from other sources including ESPN – has generated renewed interest in the case. And the DA be looking at it thoroughly with some of his top advisers.”