Officer Norman Stamp
Today in Baltimore Police History 26 April 2008 we lost our brother Police Officer Norman Stamp to an off-duty case of friendly-fire, based on the following:
Beer, a Fight, Fatal Gunfire
The Sun - Baltimore, Md.
Subjects: Murders & murder attempts; Law enforcement
Author: Linskey, Annie; Sentementes, Gus G
Date: Apr 25, 2008
Start Page: A.1
By Annie Linskey and Gus G. Sentementes Baltimore Sun reporters
On the night of his 44th anniversary as a Baltimore police officer, Norman Stamp drank beer at a strip club on Haven Street with members of the motorcycle club he helped found — a tight fraternity called the Chosen Sons.
Shortly after midnight, a dispute with another group led to harsh words and then punches. A brawl spilled out into the parking lot and drew three uniformed police officers. Stamp, brass knuckles on his fist, rushed out a side door. He apparently didn't hear or notice the uniformed Officer John Torres or his orders to stop.
Torres, a five-year veteran, felled Stamp with an electric jolt from a Taser, and the off-duty officer pulled out his service weapon.
Torres fired his gun twice, hitting Stamp at least once in the chest. The 65-year-old struggled to his feet and said: "I didn't know you were a cop," according to a person familiar with the investigation.
Stamp died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center about 1:30 a.m., leaving police stunned at how one of their colleagues — a person with more than four decades of police experience — challenged a fellow officer and ended up fatally wounded on a grimy lot.
"The Norm Stamp that I know would not have pulled a gun on police," said Paul Blair, the police union president. "Maybe it was tunnel vision and he didn't realize they were officers. It is an unbelievable way to end a career. It is a hell of a way to end a career."
Blair defended the officer who shot Stamp, saying: "Officer Torres did everything by the book. That officer was devastated."
Bleary-eyed police commanders stood at a morning news conference and concurred, saying it appeared that Torres followed department policy when he fired.
"Torres was issuing commands," said Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III. "He deployed his Taser. He followed his training; he did what he was taught to do in terms of dealing with these types of situations."
City police officers have shot 10 people this year, killing seven. Last year, they shot 33, killing 13.
About Stamp, the commissioner said: "He was a mentor to some and a friend to many."
Bealefeld said one man involved in the incident broke his leg while resisting police, and that person was arrested. Police had not released his name yesterday.
"This is an incredibly difficult time," Bealefeld said. "The men and women of your Police Department will remain focused, vigilant and undaunted."
Men from the Chosen Sons, the other brotherhood that defined Stamp's life, shed quiet tears. They put on a pot of coffee and sat around their clubhouse, smoking cigarettes and telling stories about the man who they said founded their organization with other police officers and firefighters in 1969.
"He's a survivor," said Paul "Nitro" Treash, the sergeant-of-arms of the club. "This [biker] lifestyle, it isn't for everybody. These guys will fight and die for each other."
As Treash talked about his friend, he was frequently interrupted by phone calls.
"Norm's dead," he told a caller. "I know, I know. They are going to try to cover this up," he said shaking his head.
Like the police, none of the bikers could believe Stamp would pull a weapon on an officer. "That is stuff that he has preached to us. When a cop gives an order you should comply. We're just beside ourselves right now."
They said that the night began with an initiation. Stamp, as a founding member of the club, played a key role. The members, as part of a hazing, told a new guy he had been rejected and ordered him to leave the clubhouse.
But Stamp, 65, ran out after him, saying: "Get back here and tell those guys to [expletive] off," then tossed him a wadded-up jacket with the club's colors — or patch — emblazoned on the back, said Michael Privett, who became the newest member of the club.
The men celebrated at the club for a while. Some went home. Others walked two blocks to Haven Place, a strip club that bills itself as "a gentleman's tavern" with "go-go girls."
That is where the fight broke out. Police, who interviewed many of the people in the bar, said the fracas started over women. Members of the motorcycle club interviewed byThe Sun did not mention the women.
Treash, who was not there but spoke to many of the club members yesterday, said Stamp had tried to stop the fight in the bar.
Outside, police Officers Raymond Buda, a 27-year veteran, and Jason J. Rivera, who has seven years on the force, tried to break up the fight. One person was brandishing a broken bottle, police said, and as the officers were trying to arrest people, Torres positioned himself by the bar's side door to keep others from joining the fight.
It was then that Stamp emerged from the club with brass knuckles, Bealefeld said.
Treash said he thought Stamp knew that police had been called and intended to mediate the situation. But he also noted that his friend always liked a good fight.
Torres commanded Stamp to stop and he did not, said the police commissioner. There was "no indication" that Stamp identified himself as an officer, Bealefeld said.
Charles Thrasher, owner of the Haven Place, said he has worked hard over the years to keep the club free of trouble.
He inherited the business from his father in 1980. Three years before, a 35-year-old Sparrows Point man was stabbed to death outside the bar with a broken bottle, in what police suspected was a robbery.
One of two suspects was a man on a motorcycle, according to an article inThe Evening Sun at the time. "I think I've settled it down quite a bit over the years," said Thrasher, who said he was a friend of Stamp's and knew him for 30 years.
Yesterday, a white rubber glove and an unused oxygen mask lay on the parking lot near pools of blood. A police field interview card also lay on the ground with a bloodstain.
The parking lot where Stamp was shot is isolated, surrounded by a BGE transmission station. Gang graffiti are sprayed on a back wall.
Several cars stopped by in the morning. People said they had heard about what happened and were curious to see the place where a city police officer killed his off-duty colleague.
A viewing will be held at Bruzdzinski Funeral Home, 1407 Old Eastern Ave., on Saturday and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. A memorial service will be held at the funeral home Monday at 11 a.m.
Stamp Upheld Two Loyalties
Police Veteran was a Brother Officer, a Motorcycle Son
April 25, 2008|By Gus G. Sentementes and Annie Linskey | Gus G. Sentementes and Annie Linskey,SUN REPORTERS
For decades, Norman M. Stamp belonged to two brotherhoods.
The 65-year-old was one of the city's longest-serving active-duty officers, who on Wednesday had celebrated his 44th year with the Baltimore Police Department .
He also belonged to the Chosen Sons - a gritty motorcycle club that Stamp helped found in the 1960s, with a tight-knit membership that didn't shy from a fight.
Stamp looked out for his fellow bikers, according to his friends in the club. To his colleagues on the force, Stamp was a loyal officer who would never knowingly harm a colleague.
He was killed early yesterday in a confrontation with fellow officers in Southeast Baltimore, one of whom fatally shot him as they tried to quell a brawl outside a strip club.
For decades, Stamp combined his passion for motorcycles with his job. He joined the department in 1964 and, five years later, was assigned to the motorcycle unit, where he served for 28 years, covering traffic duty and special events. In 1974, he broke his arm when he was struck by a patrol car while riding his departmental motorcycle.
"He did his job - he was no-nonsense," said Gary L. McLhinney, a former police union president. "If you were in a car and he was directing traffic, you went the way he told you to go. There's just a handful of guys like Norman left in this department."
In 1969, the year Stamp was detailed to the department's motorcycle unit, he helped form the Chosen Sons. It was a motorcycle club that started out consisting mostly of police and firefighters.
Paul "Nitro" Treash, the club's sergeant-at-arms, said Stamp liked to ride to Ocean City and smoke cigars with his biker friends. More than 40 years after its founding, the club and its traditions remained important to Stamp, Treash said.
"He was always the first to enter a fight and the last to leave," said Treash, who noted that he never saw Stamp draw his gun.
In 1997, Stamp was one of scores of officers caught up in a widespread staff shake-up in the Police Department. He eventually landed in the department's special operations section: cruising the harbor in a police boat for the marine unit.
Many who knew him said that Stamp initially resented being forced out onto the water after cruising the streets of Baltimore for decades on a motorcycle. But his friends said that he grew to like the assignment.
"To get a biker on a boat is like getting him to church," said the Haven Place strip club's owner, Charles Thrasher, who knew Stamp for 30 years. "I think he believed he wouldn't like it. He loved it."
Thrasher, who wasn't working when Stamp was shot, called his friend "one of those `unforgettable characters'" that one would encounter in Reader's Digest.
He said Stamp and the Chosen Sons would stop in his club every week after their meetings, have a few drinks and then leave - and Wednesday was no different.
"They've been coming here a while," said Thrasher. "They sort of think it's their bar."
Stamp, who was divorced and remarried, had a grown daughter and lived in Essex.
Daniel J. Fickus, a former police union president who works in the marine unit, said Stamp had "a couple of loves in his life, and this job is one of them. He will be sorely missed, that is a fact. His family has 3,000 members - we'll be there for him and his family. We will be."
Officer Norman M. Stamp
Education: Graduated from Polytechnic Institute in 1961
Department history: Joined Baltimore Police Department April 23, 1964 - Worked as a patrol officer in the Central and Northeast districts, as a motorcycle officer in the traffic division for 28 years and most recently on a boat with the Harbor Patrol.
Citations: He was awarded a bronze star for arresting a man in an assault and robbery and a unit citation in 2000 for handling special events.
Family: He was married and had one child.
Source: Baltimore Police Department
Patron Shares Story of Fight
Bearing Bruises, Man Says Slain Officer Did Not Iintervene
April 26, 2008 | By Sun reporter
For Nick Roros, Wednesday night started when he went to Haven Place, had a couple of drinks and watched the dancers. It ended in the wee hours of the morning at the city's homicide unit.
Roros said that he became involved in a bar brawl Wednesday evening that ultimately led to the fatal shooting of off-duty Baltimore City Police Officer Norman Stamp by another member of the force.
Roros, 43, gave his account during an interview yesterday morning at his Highlandtown home, where he showed the bruises and scrapes he said he got from fighting with members of the Chosen Sons, a close-knit motorcycle club that frequented the strip club. Stamp was a founding member of that club.
Roros said he told his story to dispute news accounts suggesting that the off-duty officer tried to defuse the fight.
"They act like they are all innocent like they were trying to break up the fight," Roros said. "They didn't try to break up [expletive]."
During the interview, Roros asked, over and over, why nobody called police. He wanted to know why Stamp, a 44-year veteran of the force, didn't intervene on his behalf.
Members of the Chosen Sons say that Stamp tried to defuse the fight. Paul Treash, a sergeant-at-arms of the group, said that some of the bikers were fighting but maintains that Stamp was a peacemaker - he tried to calm people down.
However, police say that when Stamp emerged from the bar, he was wearing brass knuckles.
A group of uniformed police officers was attempting to break up a fight involving some members of the gang in front of the bar when Stamp came out the side door. An officer who was watching that exit hit him with a Taser, and Stamp fell down. When he rose and drew his weapon, police say, the uniformed officer pulled his gun and shot Stamp at least once in the chest.
Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said at a news conference Thursday that the fight in the bar started over a woman. Police have said that it was someone outside the bar who called for help.
A Police Department source familiar with the investigation confirmed that Roros was at the bar, was beaten and was interviewed by homicide detectives. But the person could not confirm all of the details of Roros' account.
Roros said that he got to the strip club around 10:30 p.m. - his wife was working, so he decided to go out.
"The whole bar was full of bikers," he said. "They were dressed like bikers. They had the Chosen Sons patch and all that."
He struck up a conversation with a woman who came to the bar looking for a job. But, he said, one of the Chosen Sons wanted to talk to the same woman.
"I was talking to some girl ,and he was talking to the same girl," Roros said.
"He said, `That's my girl,'" Roros said.
In response, Roros said as a joke: "That is my wife."
Roros used his cell phone and called his brother-in-law asking him to come to the bar. Roros didn't say why he didn't just leave.
While he was on the phone, Roros said, one of the Chosen Sons punched him in the face.
"Once he hit me, I hit him," Roros said. "I got him on the ground." Roros said he had the upper hand, but then others joined in the fight.
Next thing he knew, he said, he was on the ground.
"I just felt everyone kicking me and just getting stomped," Roros said. He showed his one black eye yesterday. The other eye was filled with blood.
He said that he doesn't have health insurance but is worried about his chest, which he said hurts when he breathes in.
"I was getting kicked from everywhere once they had me on the ground," he said. "After that I curled up and they just kept kicking and kicking. They are acting like. ... "
He didn't finish his sentence.
"Why didn't he stop it?" Roros said.
Roros told The Sun yesterday that he was dragged down to the end of the bar and then thrown out the side door. Bikers, he said, kept beating him in the parking lot. But a police source said multiple fights eventually broke out and Roros was never outside the bar.
Either way, Roros said that after being beaten he went back into the bar and was inside, standing near the side door, when he heard the gunshots that killed Officer Stamp.
"By that time I was all dazed," Roros said. "I don't know when the cops came what happened."
Loyalty Binds the Biker Club Behind Badge
Slain Officer's Chosen Sons Not Known to Run From Fight
April 28, 2008|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,Sun reporter
The one-story clubhouse in Southeast Baltimore has wood floors and framed photographs of members who have died. It feels like a chapter of an Elks Club, the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars.
But the members are big beefy men who wear red crosses on their backs. Many are covered in tattoos, and some grow long pointed beards. They belong to the Chosen Sons - a motorcycle club started by city police officers in 1969 that bills itself as the largest in the state.
For decades, the Chosen Sons has been an insular group, wary of outsiders and little known except in the East Baltimore neighborhoods where they gather.
That changed early Thursday morning when one of its founding members, Norman Stamp, an off-duty police officer, burst out of a North Haven Street strip club, brass knuckles on his hand, heading toward a brawl that had spilled from the bar into the street. Before he got there, Stamp was stopped by a uniformed officer sent to quell the fight. In the confusion, Stamp drew his gun, and the other officer shot and killed him, according to police accounts. He had been on the force for 44 years.
The unusual fit between the public and private sides of Stamp's life will be on full display at his funeral today. Because his death is not considered to have come in the line of duty, he will not get full police services.
Even so, Mayor Sheila Dixon and Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III plan to attend. They will sit in a 100-seat Essex funeral home alongside members of the Chosen Sons and other motorcycle clubs from around the state.
"You will see guys from clubs that feud with each other," said Paul "Nitro" Treash, the sergeant-at-arms of the Chosen Sons. "Norm [Stamp] was the most likable guy."
Little is known about how Stamp balanced his job on the force - for the past decade, he served in the maritime unit, and for years before that, he was a motorcycle officer - with his off-duty activities. Some of his acquaintances from the world of the Chosen Sons say Stamp was always eager for a fight, but current members aren't saying much, other than to offer a relatively wholesome, if tattooed and leather-clad, vision of the club's activities.
Treash said members of the Chosen Sons organized rides to places like Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. Stamp, he said, participated in the club's last "poker run" - an outing on which members of the crew ride together to other clubhouses in the city or state. At each clubhouse they pick up a playing card - the person with the best poker hand by the end of the night is the winner.
But there was an air of paranoia at the clubhouse Thursday morning when news of Stamp's death spread.
Members wondered out loud about a Verizon truck that had been sitting outside the building for a few hours. When a man drove up in a car and sat outside, a junior member of the club was dispatched to determine whether the person in the car was the same person who caused a fight with the club members the evening before.
Treash would not answer most questions about the club for this article and would not make any of the members available to comment. Current members declined to talk about the group.
Treash did say that the club is the largest in the state, but he declined to give a number of total membership. A photograph of some members on the wall inside the club showed about 100 men gathered for an event. Treash would not say how many members are police officers.
Initially, the club was open only to public service employees, said William Council, a retired police officer who knew Stamp and was in the club in the late 1970s.
At that point there were 15 to 20 members, he said, including one member who repaired motorcycles for the Baltimore city garage.
"We'd take group rides," Council said. "We'd pick a place where we wanted to go and go bar hopping. It wasn't a threatening group or anything like that."
Council said that the name came from being chosen for the club. "You had to have somebody represent you to get in," he said. "They bring you in, they ask you some questions. Now I don't know how they do it."
According to the Chosen Sons Motorcycle Club Web site, prospective members still need to be tapped: "The C.S.M.C. does not solicit for members or accept any unknowns. All prospects must be sponsored by a member in good standing."
A fictional version of the club was featured in a January 1995 episode of Homicide: Life on the Streets. In the show, the club was called the Deacons, and some members who appeared in it put a Deacons insignia over the red crosses on backs of their jackets. The insignia from one of those jackets is hanging, framed, on the Chosen Sons clubhouse wall.
The group was started in 1969 and grew in the 1970s and 1980s, a macho time when motorcycle clubs like the Hells Angels and the Pagans would fight for territory and respect.
Unlike those clubs, the Chosen Sons is not viewed as a criminal organization, according to a city police source who is not authorized to speak to the news media.
In fact, in the very early days, the club had to combat the perception that they would always run from a fight because its members - all public service employees - could lose their jobs if they got in trouble, said Richard C. Fahlteich, a retired major from the city's homicide unit who knew Stamp and talked to him recently about the club.
That was a perception the club would not abide by.
"If someone was going to attempt to start a big fight, they were not going to run away from it," Fahlteich said. "That is where the tough guy thing came from. They did not go out looking for trouble, but they were not going to bow to trouble either. They were going to stand up for themselves."
The penchant for standing up for themselves was viewed differently in the neighborhood. Steve Fugate, the president of the city's fire officers' union, grew up in the same Highlandtown area where the club members would ride.
"It was a bunch of bad asses," Fugate said.
"From an outside perspective, they were the local version of the Hells Angels. That was anecdotal neighborhood gossip that was going around."
Fugate, 54, said that he would never pick a fight with them. "Because I'd get my ass kicked," he said. "Been there, done that. It's not fun."
Cops and Bikers
Baltimore Police Officer Killed Outside a Bar Gets an Unusual Sendoff from His Buddies
April 29, 2008|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,Sun Reporter
Two rows of men, police officers and bikers, faced each other yesterday morning - lining the edges of Old Eastern Avenue as bagpipes played and city police carried the casket of Norman Stamp to a waiting hearse.
The police wore their dress uniforms to honor the death of the man who spent the past 44 years working for the city's Police Department.
The motorcycle riders wore the red cross of the Chosen Sons on their backs to signal their association with the motorcycle club that Stamp helped to found 39 years ago.
It was an unusual sendoff for a man who was one of the city's longest-serving police officers. Bikers from various clubs around the state outnumbered the uniformed police officers. Photographs on display showed Stamp doing daredevil stunts on police motorcycles, posing with various police weapons and drinking beer with a woman clad in a leather bikini.
The police commissioner and mayor listened as the audience cheered for a speaker who disputed the official account of how Stamp came to be shot by a fellow officer early Thursday.
Stamp was shot in the chest after police were called to quell a bar brawl at an East Baltimore strip club. Police say Stamp burst out of the bar, with brass knuckles on his fist, and failed to comply with verbal orders to stop from a uniformed officer.
The officer used a stun gun on Stamp, who then drew his gun, police said. The uniformed officer, John Torres, drew his own weapon and shot Stamp twice, hitting him at least once in the chest.
But Rick Mueller, a member of a pleasure club called Fat Boys, stood in front of Stamp's open casket and said: "Hopefully, with the help of the witnesses who were there that night, the truth will come out." Applause from the audience lasted 15 seconds. When it died down, he continued: "Procedure wasn't followed, but it was not Norm that failed."
Stamp's widow, Suzanne, sobbed as those words were spoken. Over the weekend she enlisted the help of two attorneys and a private investigator, Michael Van Nostrand Sr., to conduct an independent probe of the shooting.
Van Nostrand, reached by phone, had questions about that account: "Did he have the brass knuckles on as they say? How do you reach for a gun if you have knuckles on?"
Police recovered brass knuckles from the parking lot where the fight occurred.
Dozens of bouquets of flowers lined the inside of the funeral home. One was shaped like a motorcycle, another like a police shield and another like a heart. Stamp's black leather biker boots and his wooden nightstick stood next to his coffin. Two cigars, his motorcycle colors and his police motorcycle helmet rested near his body.
At the service, Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III praised Stamp's 44-year career with the city but appeared to choose his words carefully.
"All of us have a spiritual calling to service and responsibility to service," he said. "How that manifests itself, what that looks like ... takes on many dimensions. Norm's calling was police service.
"He dedicated himself to that for 44 years. In that time, I'm absolutely convinced, he helped many, many people," Bealefeld said.
Paul Blair, president of the city's police union, knew Stamp and called him a good officer. Though Blair usually wears business suits to police events to signal his role as the union chief, this time he put on his dress uniform. "I said, I had to wear my colors," Blair said, making a reference to the many bikers in the audience who use colors to refer to the patches they wear on their backs.
"We call it the thin blue line," Blair said, adding that Stamp's police family holds him just as dear as Stamp's biker family.
The audience laughed when Blair referred to Stamp's time at the city police marine unit as Stamp's "private navy."
The ceremony was led by Sgt. Don Helms, a police chaplain, and was organized loosely, with various speakers telling stories about Stamp's life.
Timothy J. Haefner, a police officer in the Southeastern District, had trouble getting though his speech without crying. "There were so many words that described Norm," he said. As his voice cracked, some of the women in the audience asked for tissues.
"Norm lived his life to the fullest," Haefner said. "My heart is truly broken."
The first biker to speak was Reds Sullivan, president of the Chosen Sons, who thanked Stamp for starting the club and called him a mediator. "Call Stamp and he'd fix it," Sullivan said. Then, becoming emotional, Sullivan said: "I'm going to get out of here before I begin to cry."
Mueller, who spoke last, recalled one of Stamp's favorite police stories. He said Stamp pulled over a man in East Baltimore and the man, not realizing to whom he was talking, tried to get out of the ticket by saying he was a close friend of Norm Stamp.
Because Stamp's death was not considered to have been in the line of duty, he did not receive the full police honors afforded many officers who are killed. Those funerals usually tie up city streets for hours as processions of police cars roll to Dulaney Memorial Gardens. Instead, mourners yesterday were invited to the Chosen Sons' headquarters - a clubhouse that is about two blocks north from the strip club where Stamp was shot.
Civil Trial Begins in Wrongful Death Case of Officer Shot by Police
Stamp, a 44-year Veteran, was Shot Outside Strip Club in 2008
October 07, 2010|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
Police said that in April 2008, off-duty officer Norman Stamp burst out of a Southeast Baltimore strip club with brass knuckles on his hand, barreling toward a brawl involving members of his motorcycle club that had spilled into the street.
That's when, according to police, the 44-year-veteran got into a confrontation with a uniformed officer sent to quell the fight, pulled his service weapon and was fatally shot.
An attorney for Stamp's widow said Thursday — the first day of trial in a wrongful-death civil suit brought against Officer John Torres — that there's a different story that the Police Department wanted to suppress.
In opening statements, attorney Peter T. McDowell said Stamp was shot by Torres as he exited the Haven Place club to leave for the night, a hasty decision that McDowell said was made by an officer who had "wrongly prejudged" the situation.
He plans to call witnesses who were at the bar — tracked down by a private investigator hired by Stamp's wife of four years, Suzanne — and a forensic expert to counter the Police Department's findings.
"Police investigating [the shooting] just didn't want to uncover the truth," McDowell told jurors.
However, attorney Troy A. Priest said Torres was separating Stamp from another man when Stamp fell down some stairs. Stamp then came at Torres, shaking off a three-second Taser jolt and drawing his gun.
As Priest described the officer's account of the events, Torres put his head down and appeared emotional. Priest said Torres now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"He was in fear for his life, and took actions necessary not only to save his life but the others there," Priest said.
Stamp had not been involved in the initial fight inside the bar, which prompted the club operators to turn on the lights and cut off the music. Nick Roros, who had been injured in the brawl, called his brother-in-law, a Fells Point bar owner, who in turn called the personal cell phone of Officer Raymond Buda, who was patrolling the area with Torres and another officer.
McDowell said that Stamp, unaware of a situation brewing outside, said good night to a bartender, then exchanged brief words with a dancer near the back door. A moment later, the dancer heard two gunshots, McDowell said, adding that she never heard any commotion or commands to drop a weapon.
Torres' attorney said that Roros had charged Stamp, and they had to be separated by Torres. Stamp was shot after stumbling down the steps and pulling his weapon on Torres, who shot downward from the top of the stairs. He said brass knuckles were recovered from the scene.
"The decision [to shoot] was reasonable, and consistent with his training and experience," Priest said.
But McDowell said a man who was in the parking lot and heard the gunshots wheeled around to see Stamp falling down the steps, where he remained until medics arrived.
McDowell said the trajectory of the bullets that struck Stamp suggest that he was shot by someone who was below him.
The lawsuit initially alleged that Torres was hired as part of a Baltimore Police Department policy to "hire untrained Puerto Rican applicants to assist with the Spanish-speaking community within Baltimore City." It said the applicants were hired with "blatant disregard for the safety of the public" and kept in order to maintain a quota of Spanish-speaking officers.
The department and the city were removed as defendants in the case, and no such claims were made in McDowell's opening statements.
The two witnesses called to testify Thursday appeared to be an effort to counter the image of Stamp as a brawling biker and strip club patron.
Zeinab Rabold, a former Baltimore police colonel who oversaw internal affairs until she was forced to retire in 2004, said she knew Stamp for years and described him as a "mellow" officer who was deft at defusing tense situations. He worked mainly in the traffic and marine units, and took pride in being a police officer, she said.
His motorcycle club, called the Chosen Sons, was formed by a group of five law enforcement officers in the 1960s, said friend and former prosecutor Robert Donadio, who was a member of the group for about 10 years.
The group, in those early days at least, was open exclusively to those in law enforcement, and they did charity events for children. Donadio, 78, said Stamp would dress up as Santa Claus.
"Officer Stamp was a peacemaker," Donadio testified.
Baltimore Jury Finds in Favor of Officer in Shooting Death
Longtime Police Officer Shot by Fellow Officer in 2008
October 21, 2010|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
A Baltimore jury found Thursday that a city officer acted reasonably when he killed an off-duty member of the force while responding to a fight at a Southeast Baltimore strip club.
The widow of Officer Norman Stamp, a 44-year veteran who was fatally shot in April 2008, sued Officer John Torres, alleging that he "wrongly prejudged" the situation and that the Police Department didn't aggressively investigate the circumstances of the shooting.
The trial lasted about two weeks, during which jurors visited the Haven Place club where the shooting occurred. Jurors took only a few hours to decide in favor of Torres, the Daily Record reported on its website Thursday afternoon.
Police have said that Stamp, 65, who was hanging out with members of his motorcycle club, rushed out of the bar with brass knuckles. Torres struck him with a Taser, then fired two shots when Stamp reached for his service weapon, police said. As he lay dying, Stamp identified himself as an officer.
In opening statements, Peter McDowell, an attorney for Stamp's widow, Suzanne Stamp, said that the police account did not mesh with descriptions from witnesses and forensic experts gathered by a private investigator.
For example, McDowell claimed that Stamp was shot while standing at the top of stairs leading out of the club, though Torres said he was at the top of the stairs and had shot downward at Stamp. McDowell said that Torres impulsively shot Stamp as he left the strip club for the night unaware of the police action outside.
But Torres' attorney, Troy A. Priest, dismissed those claims and said the officer was in fear for his life and followed his training.
McDowell said Thursday that Suzanne Stamp was "obviously disappointed in the jury's verdict," but said she was content that the other accounts of the night were "now part of the public record."
Priest did not return a message seeking comment.
The lawsuit initially alleged that Torres was hired as part of a Baltimore Police Department policy to "hire untrained Puerto Rican applicants to assist with the Spanish-speaking community within Baltimore City." It said the applicants were hired with "blatant disregard for the safety of the public" and kept to maintain a quota of Spanish-speaking officers.
The department and city were later removed as defendants.
Testimony included how the shooting had affected both sides; friends of Stamp said his wife was devastated and still talks about Stamp as if he is alive. Torres' attorney said his client suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
How to Dispose of Old Police Items
Please contact Det. Ret. Kenny Driscoll if you have any pictures of you or your family members and wish them remembered here on this tribute site to Honor the fine men and women who have served with Honor and Distinction at the Baltimore Police Department.
Copyright © 2002 Baltimore City Police History - Ret Det Kenny Driscoll