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by Peter Moskos

January 29, 2009

Stories of the Eastern

I got Badges, Bullets & Bars in the mail and started reading it.

I am amazed (maybe pleased is a better word) to find that one story -- a police urban myth I constantly heard -- is true. There are many crazy stories cops tell. And every squad has its own ghosts. Most of the stories are probably true (you really "can't make this shit up"). But cops are also good bullshitters, so you never know for sure.

There are stories that come to mind that I fully believe are true but weren't in my book because, well, I didn't see it.

One involves fake snow and a sleeping police officer.

another involves an officer who dragged a cold dead body across the street so he wouldn't have to do paperwork.

Turns out the dead guy had the misfortune of dying right on a post boundary line. What made it even worse was the the line wasn't even a district line (I mean if he dumped the body on the Southeast... or even gave it Sector 1, well, that is a little funny). But the SOB dragged the body across the street so another member of his own squad had to deal with it! What a prick.

Or who knows? Maybe it never happened. (But it did.)

Another story I heard (many times) involved brothers on Durham St. One brother stabbed his brother with a butcher's knife. On Thanksgiving. At the family dinner table. Why? Because they were arguing about who would get the turkey legs.

Now that's certainly a doozie of story! True? Who knows? I mean, I wouldn't kill my brother over a bird leg. But then there's a lot of behavior in the Eastern I wouldn't do.

But I rarely heard stories that weren't true... I mean, why make shit up when there's such much true that is unbelievable?

But still... Thanksgiving? turkey leg? brothers? carving knife? table all set up and everything. It seemed too picture perfect to be true. I mean, maybe they were just "brothers." And it wasn't Thanksgiving. And it was while eating a chicken box. But really it was about something else.

Well... I'll be damned. In his book, Dan Shanahan was working Sector Two in the Eastern and says not only is the story true, but he was the primary at the scene! On Durham Street. In my sector. It happened back in 1976. (The way the story was told, it always seemed like it happened just nights before I hit the streets in 2000). Twenty-five years later (only one officer I worked with had more than 24 years on) this story was still being told to represent everything that was f*cked up about the Eastern.

Still. I'm happy to read this. I feel like Mythbusters. "Man in Eastern stabs and kills brother over turkey leg at family Thanksgiving dinner." Confirmed!


BG said...

If my memory serves me well, and it usually doesn't, I think I read this about this years ago in a fiction novel. In Tom Clancey's, With out Remorse, two cop characters are discussing this exact event. If I'm not mistaken they were Baltimore cops. That book had to be written in the '80s

Anonymous said...

Seen more than a few stabbings and countless fights over who drank the last beer. One resulted in a fork being embedded in the top of someone's skull. (Got pictures.) My squad also found a severed human penis once. No complainant ever surfaced.

PCM said...

I once found a horse but I never found a cock!?

Well, no complainant, no crime, right?

Did you put out a description over KGA?

And then what do you do? Submit it as found property?

A really hope it's not sitting in some glass bowl in somebody's basement.

Anonymous said...

My father, a retired police officer, told me a story about a local homicide victim likely stabbed to death over a drumstick. Perhaps these holiday dinner murders are more common than we would like to think.

Another doozy: At the scene of a domestic homicide, the wife, who had just shot her husband in the chest was heard wailing, "I love that mother fucker! I love that mother fucker!" Yikes. That's life in da big shitty.

Margaret said...

As a person that knows Shanahan and worked in a gas station in his district - I recall all of the stories that he tells in his book. I have known him since he was a rookie and we are still friends after 32 years.

Anonymous said...

My name is Daniel j Shanahan Jr. I was rased and grew up on the stores and hardships my father faced when he was a cop. I insure every turn of the page is all first hand accounts of being a cop in Baltimore City. I warn you it is hard for a normal and even average reader to comprehend what my father faced and suffered. If you would like any information or questions about my father please E-mail him at: djshanahan@hotmail.com