Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Thoughts on the shooting of Chosen Sons member Norman Stamp

Buz thinks that the vast, overwhelming majority of current city police and ex and retired city police suffered in muted embarrassment a couple of weeks ago when long-time motorcycle cop Norman Stamp was shot and killed by an on-duty city officer just doing his job. On Sunspot and the police talk forum, there were many, many defenders of the dead officer, and said things like he was a mentor, a great guy, and he would never pull his gun on a cop, etc., etc. Well, if he didn't pull his gun, why did the officer shoot him?
Of course, if the exact same scenario happened with a "street punk",  they would have said good job, and the punk deserved it, etc. Ya can't have it both ways, guys.

Mrs. Stamp has hired a private detective and a couple of lawyers to see about "the truth" and possibly suing the same department he served in for many years.
After seeing some of the bitter anti-police posts, this has riled up in talk forums, one can only conclude, that both the commish and mayor had to be a bit embarrassed to sit there and hear a biker guy say the on-duty cop was lying--to 15 seconds applause. This after the department detailed an honor guard and motorcycle escort for the funeral procession.
Only in Baltimore! Many people in Baltimore feel that the police department has long ago lost its moral authority. I was in a liquor store the other day, buying some refreshing beverage. There was a uniformed officer in the store discussing something heatedly with the owner. I couldn't hear what was being said, but the young clerk says to me: "I hate Baltimore Police. They're so nasty and hard to deal with".

Buz wants to assure readers that most cops just want to do their jobs, make some money for a good life, go to vacation in Ocean City, and go home at the end of the day. They don't carry brass knuckles and go around looking for good fights. Now Buz has been in the Haven Place many times when he was single, but not for about, oh, 15-20  years; as strip joints go, it's a pretty good one. When the Chosen Sons and their ilk, came in, though, it was time to finish the beer and head out. Those guys just gave off "trouble" vibes for anyone sober enough to sense it. And when I was headed out for a cold one, and saw their line of bikes outside the Haven, I just kept right on going. (The consultant says that's trouble avoidance.)

Here are some other thoughts based on a security/risk management/ litigation perspective:
  • Stamp was 65 years old, but wearing "biker" costume, very similar ot members of a motorcycle gang. He was celebrating with other "club" members at a strip joint. One member said to the paper: "Norm always like a good fight". The city attorneys would really like to depose that guy and summons him at a trial--along with any other Chosen Sons members that they could get their hands on. 
  • Carrying brass knuckles is against the law. It's considered a "dangerous and deadly weapon".  Any street thug patted down by an officer would be arrested with them. One poster on sunspot said that Norm always carried them as well as a claw--a device with a handcuff attached to a handle to cause "compliance". It was banned by the department many years ago.
  • Many years ago, all city police were instructed to call on-duty police if they observe trouble AS THEIR FIRST DUTY. They should only intervene if absolutely necessary, and then cooperate fully with the on-duty officers.
  • One detective told me that : "look, everybody knew that it was just a matter of time before someting bad happened with those guys hanging out at that bar".
  • Buz is sure that tunnel vision, a chaotic scene with a brawl going on, adrenalin flowing, and, of course, lots of alcohol caused Norm to not see or hear, or care about the officer ordering him to stop. (Wonder if the city is going to release the blood alcohol level of the deceased--or if they're waiting for the lawsuit). And of course, officers wear those midnite blue uniforms, which can be hard to see in the dark if you're not alert.
  • The private detective is probably going to do little more than regurgitate some police reports and interview one-sided witnesses. I doubt the "victim" or the on-duty police are going to be willing to be interviewed by him. 
  • The two attorneys will find that there is no insurance (the city is self-insuring), and no quick out-of court settlement (see ya in court). The case against the officer who was on-duty and the city is a weak one at best. Bob  Verderaime would have a field day with this case! And given how much city police are liked by city juries (sometimes), a city officer in a strip joint in biker attire suing the city will probably gain very little sympathy.
  • Mrs. Stamp might find better fodder for a lawsuit against the Haven Place for among other things: inadequate security, negligence in providing excessive drinks to customers, allowing and even encouraging folks in biker garb to frequent the place, etc. (A lot of bars don't allow "colors" or biker garb for security reasons).  Of course, given the nature of the business, the owner probably liked them coming in, since they not only bought drinks, but provided his "bouncers" or "security" when they were there.
  • Alas, we think the poor officer who shot Stamp will probably be ostracized by his "colleagues" who worshipped Stamp. Buz thinks he'll probably be gone from the police force before the year is out.
So Buz just wants to say that he hopes that most people who are on the police force are pretty decent overall. Remember, Bmore is a tough place, so you gotta hire some tough people to go out and protect us. And the department tries to weed out nasties, but sometimes the work makes one a little hard. It does its best to discipline and regulate officer activity and use of force. And, of course, many like to ride motorcycles for fun, and don't go in for this other biker stuff.