Film Noir Friday: Timetable [1956]

Time-Table-1956

Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat.

Tonight’s feature is TIMETABLE starring Mark Stevens, Kikng Calder, Felicia Farr and Marianne Stewart.

TCM says:

On a westbound train, the conductor asks Dr. Paul Brucker, who is using the pseudonym Sloan, to assist a sick passenger. After his examination, Brucker tells the conductor the man may have polio, and recommends an unscheduled stop at the nearest town, Winston, Arizona. Meanwhile, the conductor grants Brucker access to the baggage car so he can get his medical kit. Unknown to the conductor, Brucker withdraws a gun from his bag and injects the security officer and baggage handlers with a substance that puts them to sleep.

 

Uh, oh.  I smell trouble.  Enjoy the film!

Film Noir Friday: Nightmare Alley [1947]

Nightmare_Alley-260480276-large

Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat.

Tonight’s feature is NIGHTMARE ALLEY starring Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell, Coleen Gray and Helen Walker.

TCM says:

An ambitious carnival worker attempts to scam his way out of the carnival in this brutal noir.

Stan Carlisle, an amoral carnival roustabout, exhibits a morbid fascination with the geek, a sideshow drunk who bites off the heads of live chickens in exchange for a daily bottle of liqour. Stan works with Zeena, a phony psychic who performs a mind reading act with her drunken husband Pete. Becoming intrigued when Molly, the naïve young assistant to Bruno the Strongman, tells him that Zeena and Pete were once vaudeville headliners who developed an elaborate word code worth its weight in gold, the handsome, highly manipulative Stan suggests that Zeena teach him the code so that they can work together. Zeena, who blames herself for her husband’s dissipation, rejects Stan’s proposal until he shrewdly suggests that their new act could fund the cost of Pete’s cure. When Zeena consults her tarot cards for direction, however, they portend Pete’s death, and alarmed, Zeena balks at making Stan her partner.

Film Noir Friday: Notorious [1946]

NOTORIOUS

Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat.

Tonight’s feature is Alfred Hitchcock’s 1946 film NOTORIOUS. It may not be a film noir but it’s got spies, Nazis, and  it is a masterpiece. I absolutely love this film. It is glorious to look at and the actors: Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, and Claude Rains are at the top of their form. If you’ve never seen NOTORIOUS you are in for a treat. Even if, like me, you’ve seen it dozens of times it is still a great way to spend the evening.

TCM says:

After her Nazi father is convicted of treason by a Miami, Florida jury, German-born Alicia Huberman tries to forget her pain by throwing a loud party and flirting with uninvited guest T. R. Devlin. Late that evening, an intoxicated Alicia takes Devlin on a drive and is stopped for speeding by a motorcycle officer. When Devlin flashes his official credentials, however, the officer allows Alicia to go without a ticket. Alicia, who has been hounded by reporters and police, is infuriated at Devlin and denounces him as a double-crossing “cop.” Although Devlin disapproves of Alicia’s self-destructive, promiscuous life style, he is confident of her patriotic feelings toward America, having heard secretly recorded comments she has made, and offers her a job infiltrating a Nazi industrial combine in Brazil.

And so begins one hell of a tale. Enjoy!

 

Book Review: Death At Chinatown

deathatchinatown

In DEATH AT CHINATOWN amateur sleuth Emily Cabot is drawn into a murder mystery that pulls her into the heart of Chicago’s Chinatown–a place as foreign as a trip to the moon would have been to most Caucasians during the summer of 1896.

Invited by her husband, Dr. Stephen Chapman, Emily attends a demonstration of a Roentgen device (an early x-ray machine) where she is introduced to visiting Chinese doctors, Mary Stone and Ida Kahn.  Emily is initially unimpressed because she expected the women to be exotic creatures in native dress, but to her surprise they are Americanized, at least outwardly, from head to toe. The women had been studying medicine at the University of Michigan and were stopping off in Chicago before returning to China to open a clinic–that is until one of them is accused of the murder of a Chinese herbalist.

As Emily becomes better acquainted with Drs. Stone and Kahn she discovers the enormous personal sacrifices that they had made in order to assimilate during their time in the U.S. and to pursue their studies in medicine.

Some of the struggles that Stone and Kahn faced in pursuit of their careers were familiar to Emily. Prior to becoming a mother Emily had been a researcher and lecturer with an interest in crime—in fact she had been involved in police investigations and she enjoyed the challenges. The clock is ticking on a lecturer’s position held open for her during her pregnancies and Emily must make up her mind soon or likely forever forfeit the chance to resume her career.

Emily is also in the midst of a domestic crisis. She is worried that she is losing Stephen—he is often away overnight ostensibly conducting medical research—but is he? She wonders if there is more to his absences from home than the demands of his career.

Emily faces a thoroughly modern dilemma with which many readers will empathize. Can she be the mother she wants to be and still carve out time to pursue her passion for research?

Her investigation into the herbalist’s death is the catalyst for change in Emily’s marriage, her approach to motherhood and her feelings about her career.

Author Frances McNamara does an excellent job of guiding the reader not only through the Chicago of over one hundred years ago, but through the myriad streets, small shops and unfamiliar culture of Chinatown and its inhabitants. The mystery that that drives the narrative gives Ms. McNamara an opportunity to examine the topics of immigration, women’s rights and the ramifications of scientific discoveries—issues which are as timely now as they were then.  Also, I was not all surprised to discover that Ms. McNamara is a librarian, her research is impeccable. She populates the novel with both real and imaginary characters and events which, for me, added interest and complexity.

I was sent DEATH AT CHINATOWN to review–and as I had not read any of the previous Emily Cabot novels I wasn’t sure what to expect; however, I was pleasantly surprised. McNamara paints a vivid picture of Chicago at the end of the 19th century, and I felt as if I was walking along with Emily during her visits to Chinatown. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip back in time—in fact I plan to make the trip again by reading the first four novels in the series.

Cops Behaving Badly: The Death of Stanley Beebe, Conclusion

Because it’s been a few days since we last visited the Stanley Beebe case I think that a brief synopsis is in order.

beebe death studiedIn December of 1942 Stanley Beebe was arrested for public intoxication. He was taken to LAPD’s Central Station where he later alleged he had been badly beaten. In a death bed statement to his wife, published in the L.A. Times, Beebe reiterated his claim. He died about ten days later of injuries that the coroner had determined were the result of a savage beating.

The Beebe case was a political hot potato–corruption and abuse by the cops terrified and enraged the citizens and just a few years earlier, in 1938, Angelenos had ousted Mayor Frank Shaw in a corruption scandal. Shaw was the first U.S. mayor to be recalled and the city was still reeling from the fallout of that national embarrassment.

The investigation into Beebe’s death was deftly stonewalled by a monumental lack of cooperation from LAPD. Finding the truth was going to be an uphill battle all the way, especially since people were being threatened if they didn’t drop the inquiry.

We’ll pick up the tale from there…

 *******************************************

Deputy City Attorney Everett Leighton’s wife received a telephone call threatening her husband with death if he didn’t back-off the Stanley Beebe case. But it wasn’t just high profile city government types who were being threatened. Raymond Henry, 42, of 915 S. Mott Street was in jail when Stanley Beebe was allegedly beaten. If the D.A.’s investigators were looking for more info on Stanley’s case it wasn’t going to come from Raymond Henry. However, Henry did have a story to tell.  He said that there had been another case of police brutality in the jail at approximately the same time.

death threatThere was an alley leading into the booking office and Raymond said he had seen a man dressed in khaki work clothes lying there and he appeared to have been beaten. Henry received a mysterious telephone call from a man claiming to be a cop; but unlike the call Everett Leighton’s wife had received Henry’s unknown caller made him an offer.  The mystery man said he’d like to meet with Henry and offered to “pay all his expenses for a couple of days”.   It was clear that someone wanted Raymond out of the way so he couldn’t testify about what he had seen.

In mid-February 1943 Chief Horrall ordered several LAPD officers jailed for their parts in the death of Stanley Beebe: Compton Dixon, James F. Martin, John M. Yates, E.P. Mooradian, McKinley W. Witt and Leo L. Johnson. The case became even uglier when it appeared that the police report had been falsified. A copy of the report showed Beebe’s occupation as machinist, he was an accountant; and his address was “transient” — yet the telephone call he’d been allowed to make had been to his wife at their apartment.

Every politician from Los Angeles to Sacramento sought to make political hay out of the issue of police brutality. Newspapers continued to report on new and increasingly alarming allegations of abuse of authority. One former prisoner said that he had been beaten while handcuffed and that large quantities of water and brandy had been forced down his throat.

It was LAPD officer Compton Dixon who was finally accused of manslaughter in Beebe’s death. Compton didn’t fit Stanley’s description of his attacker, but there were several points on which Stanley had been understandably vague in his death bed statement to his wife. It was very possible he had incorrectly described his assailant.dixon rummel

Compton was indicted for Stanley’s murder on March 4, 1943, but he was immediately released on $10,000 bail when his Defense attorney Samuel Rummel and prosecutors stipulated that even if it was proved that Compton had beaten Beebe to death, it could possibly amount only to second-degree murder.

Because second degree murder carried a penalty of five years to life they decided he could be released on a bond.

Rummel’s reputation as a mouthpiece for crooked cops and local gangsters was well known, and deserved. Sam was friendly with gangster Mickey Cohen among other bad guys, but rubbing elbows with crooks isn’t a smart move. Rummel lived the high life hanging out with Cohen and various corrupt policemen, he was even part owner of a couple of Las Vegas casinos, but it all came to an end when he was shot gunned to death in the driveway of his Laurel Canyon home during the early morning hours of December 11, 1950. His slaying remains unsolved.

Sam Rummel dead in his driveway. Photo courtesy of LAPL.

Sam Rummel dead in his driveway. Photo courtesy of UCLA Digital Archive.

Two rookie officers had testified at the Grand Jury hearing that they’d witnessed Stanley’s beating. They were quite clear in their statements; but when it came time for them to testify in open court they were both suspiciously vague. In fact each of them said they had seen Stanley and they’d seen a foot on his stomach, but they just couldn’t be sure whose foot it was!

rookies describe beatingOne by one, police officers who had previously admitted that they’d seen Compton Dixon beat Stanley Beebe retracted their statements. One of them, Leo Johnson, said that the statement he’d made at the LAPD training center on February 14th was made under duress:

“That statement is false.  It was not prepared by me and not written by me.  Words were put in my mouth and the statements are untrue.  I don’t ever remember seeing Dixon place his foot on anybody’s stomach.”

mrs beebeOfficers with amnesia and revised statements should have been expected in Dixon’s trial, but there was one courtroom shocker that knocked the wind out of some of the observers.

Deputy District Attorney Robert G. Wheeler, who handled the original investigation into the fatal beating, testified that after completing his inquiry he was of the opinion that Mrs. Maxine Beebe, widow of the dead man, could have murdered her husband!

When asked by Rummel on what facts he had based his conclusions, Wheeler responded:

“Only that Beebe was under her control from December 20 to December 27, and her evasiveness during the inquiry”.

I told you Sam Rummel was a mouthpiece for crooks.

Compton Dixon was questioned by Rummel about the alleged crime, quoted here verbatim from the L.A. Times:

“Did you strike Beebe?” Rummel asked.

“I did not,” Dixon replied with a firm voice.

“Did you kick him?”

“Never.”

“Did you jump on him?”

I did not.” Dixon said.

The case went to the jury and they deliberated for seven days before becoming deadlocked: 8 to 4  in favor of acquittal.

It was a disgusting miscarriage of justice. District Attorney Howser issued a statement in which he said the failure of the Los Angeles Police Department to solve the murder of the prisoner was due to:

“…concealed evidence and a misdirected investigation by members of the same department who were afraid disclosure of the truth would involve a member of members of the department.”

Dixon still had to face a police trial board–he had been suspended from duty since February.  The LAPD board of rights concluded its investigation in July 1943 and they found Compton Dixon not guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer for refusing to testify before the grand jury.  The board said that Dixon had been charged with manslaughter and the natural right of self-preservation, as well as his constitutional rights, superseded the general duty of an officer to testify before inquisitorial bodies.

get out of jail free cardDixon was returned to duty and his back pay was restored. He retired in 1946 and because he had spent 20 years or more at a jail duty station he was presented with silver keys (that wouldn’t actually turn the locks) to the main doors of City Jail. It didn’t matter that the keys were phonies–Dixon didn’t need the real thing, he’d been given a “Get Out of Jail Free” card in 1943.

None of the officers implicated in the various brutality cases being investigated at the time were punished, and no one was ever held accountable for Stanley Beebe’s death.

The Devil in Orange County-Update and call to action

One of the things I never expected to happen when I began this blog in December 2012 was that I would hear from so many victims, and perpetrators, and their families. I have corresponded with people whose family tree was forever altered by a crime from as long ago as the 1920s.

I’ve found that most of the family members who contact me are seeking an open ear–someone who will listen and not judge. Often I am asked to provide information about a decades old incident and I gladly share my research notes.

The internet has made it nearly impossible for families to keep secrets–someone doing a quick search of a popular genealogy site may discover a long forgotten crime involving a relative and seek answers.

steve hurd

Stephen Hurd

In “The Devil in Orange County” I wrote about my peripheral involvement in one of the most infamous crimes in the county’s history. I suggest that you read the posts for an in-depth examination of the crimes, but briefly the circumstances are as follows:

On June 2, 1970, Stephen Hurd, 20, and Arthur “Moose” Hulse, 16, and several of their companions, were involved in two back-to-back violent homicides. The first was the brutal hatchet slaying, by Hulse, of 20-year-old Jerry Wayne Carlin, a gas station attendant working the grave yard shift. Carlin left behind a young widow. He never had the chance to learn that his wife was pregnant.

florence brown

The next day 29-year-old Florence Nancy Brown, stepmother to four children, was car jacked at a freeway off-ramp by Hurd, Hulse and a few of their co-horts. She was taken to a field and stabbed over 20 times. Her body was buried in a shallow grave near Ortega Highway. Hurd later revealed that he had returned to the make-shift burial site and mutilated Brown’s corpse by removing her heart which he then used in a Satanic ritual. Stephen Hurd died of a brain hemorrhage in prison nine years ago.

Arthur Hulse is currently incarcerated at Vacaville, but apparently not for much longer unless Governor Brown vetoes his release. At a hearing on September 26, 2014, Hulse was granted parole and is scheduled to be cut loose in approximately 120 days. He was not supposed to have been eligible for parole until 2015. What the hell happened?

craig hulse photo

There are individuals who deserve parole–they earn it by taking responsibility for their previous actions and by taking steps to become a productive member of society. Nothing that I have read about Arthur’s years in prison has suggested that he has done anything to make himself suitable for parole.

I mentioned that I’ve heard from victims and families of violent crime and this morning I received email from Jerry Wayne Carlin’s widow. She is rightfully horrified that Arthur Craig Hulse will be paroled unless Governor Brown takes action within the next few weeks.

carlin beating deathI hope that her letter will move you, as it has me, to contact Governor Brown and ask him to veto Hulse’s parole.

With her permission I am reprinting her email to me. I have withheld her current surname at her request.

 

My name is Patricia ______. My first husband, Jerry Wayne Carlin was murdered on June 2, 1970. As you can imagine, my life was changed forever on that horrible night.

I’m writing to let you know that Arthur Craig Hulse had a parole hearing on September 26, 2014 and was granted parole. I was notified by the District Attorney, Scott Simmons, of the impending hearing on September 22, 2014, when the DA’s office was notified. The parole hearing had been moved up one year without notice to the DA or myself. I was asked by the DA to write a letter to the parole board, which I did.

It has been 44 years since Jerry’s murder. There has not been even one June 2, that I haven’t stopped and remember what happened on that horrible night. I gave birth to Jerry’s son, Jason, in 1971. All my son has left of his father is a 5″x7″ picture. When I was told of what happened to Jerry that night, I wanted to die. I took a overdose of every pill in the medicine cabinet but, by the grace of God, the police realized what I had done and got me to the hospital. I was told that I was pregnant. I knew I needed to be strong for my baby and for Jerry Wayne. I got on with my life and Jerry’s son grew and is now a Grandpa.

Although life went on, always in the back of my mind, was the thought, that someday Steve Hurd and Arthur Hulse could be released. Hurd died in 2005.

Now Hulse has been given a parole date. The Governor of California has the authority to overturn the parole board’s decision. He will review the case within 30 days and if the decision is not overturned, my worst fears will be realized, and this animal will be released in 120 days from September 26, 2014. I will be writing to the Governor to request he overturn this ruling. I have contacted the Orange County Register, because they have been following this case for more than 40 years. Incidentally they also were unaware of Hulse’s parole hearing. I do not know if they will publish an article about this person’s parole.

I’m writing a letter to the Governor’s Office and hope that more people who learn about this will also. The address is:

Governor Edmund G Brown
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

This may be the last thing I can do for Jerry Wayne and his son. If you have any way of helping get the word out about this horrible decision, I would be so grateful.

Life in prison should be just that. Is 44 years enough for hacking a innocent person to death? I will live the rest of my life, knowing what happened. There will be no parole for me or my son. Arthur Hulse should remain in prison for the rest of his life.

Thank You for your time.

******************************************************************

I cannot even imagine the pain that Patricia and her son have endured over the years, and of course Jerry’s loss continues to be felt by Patricia’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

It’s easy for you to contact Governor Brown via EMAIL. I suggest that you select “Have Comment’ for the purpose of your communication, and for topic “Parole-Governors Review”.  Also select “Con” for your position on the pending parole.

I hope you’ll join me in writing to Governor Brown, it will take only a few moments of your time but may result in years of peace for Patricia and her family.

Below you will find the email I have sent to the Governor–feel free to cut and paste it.

Governor Brown:

I am writing to urge you to veto the parole of Arthur Craig Hulse (#B33433) due to the heinous nature of his crimes. On June 2, 1970 he murdered 20-year-old gas station attendant Jerry Wayne Carlin with a hatchet and the next day he was an accessory to the car-jacking and stabbing of 29-year-old wife and mother Florence Nancy Brown. Mrs. Brown was stabbed at least 20 times and her body was mutilated postmortem.

Hulse was denied parole in October 2012 because he was considered a danger if released and, additionally, he had never completed any drug or alcohol treatment program during his years of  incarceration. In fact he was informed at his 2012 hearing that he would not be considered for release again until 2015.

It is unclear why his parole hearing was moved up and it is a mystery how he became eligible for parole after such a short amount of time, particularly when he had done nothing to earn his release in the 44 years prior to his September 26, 2014 parole hearing.

It would be an injustice to the victim’s families if he is paroled. Hulse also poses a possible danger to any community into which he may be released.

I thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Joan E. Renner

Film Noir Friday: Gangs Inc. [1941]

Paper_Bullets_AKA_Gangs_Inc_AKA_Gang_War-300845333-large

Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. While I am working on the final installment of COPS BEHAVING BADLY: THE DEATH OF STANLEY BEEBE, why don’t you take a film break.

Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat.

Tonight’s feature is GANGS, INC. (aka PAPER BULLETS) starring Alan Ladd, Joan Woodbury, Jack LaRue and Linda Ware.

TCM says:

At a playground, little Rita Adams is enjoying a reunion with her ex-convict father when he is suddenly shot to death. Rita is sent to an orphanage, where her closest playmates are Bob Elliot and Mickey Roma. Her father’s prison record continues to haunt Rita as an adult, and she loses her factory job when she cannot get bonded. Rita’s roommate, aspiring singer Donna Andrews, secretly calls Bob, now an aerospace engineer, hoping he can help his old friend find work. Bob has always loved Rita, but she is involved with Harold DeWitt, the dissolute son of the powerful Clarence DeWitt, who disapproves of their relationship. While they are driving one night, the intoxicated Harold hits and kills a pedestrian. Acting on the advice of his father’s attorney, Bruce King, Harold persuades Rita to take the blame for the accident, promising to marry her and assuring her that she will not have to serve time.

Is it just me or does Harold’s promise to marry Rita strike a false note?  Sounds to me like another big lie along the lines of: “The check is in the mail”, or “I’ll always love you.”  I’m sure I’ll be shouting at the TV telling Rita not to believe him, but I don’t imagine she’ll take my advice.

Enjoy the film!

Cops Behaving Badly: The Death of Stanley Beebe, Part 2

inquiry pushedThe alleged beating death of Stanley Beebe while he was in custody resulted in more than just a public relations crisis for the LAPD. Citizens were outraged and leery of their police department, especially when other cases of alleged police brutality began to surface.

Mayor Bowron and the City Council joined the District Attorney in demanding a full investigation. None of the politicos wanted to be perceived as soft on police brutality. Besides, any heat brought to bear on the power structure of the city might reveal pay-offs and other nefarious goings-on and that just wouldn’t do.

The Mayor issued a statement in which he said that a full investigation would be made, and the Council adopted a resolution asking the Board of Police Commissioners to investigate and supply additional information involving the possible beating of a blind man by LAPD officers.investigation

Another man, Mr. James M. Palmer, 63, a janitor at the Philharmonic Auditorium Building came forward and charged that two police radio officers beat him over the head with a blackjack and kicked him after they had arrested him on a charge of intoxication.  The records showed that Palmer was booked by Officers Francis B. Doyle and Edward L. Burnett early on the morning of January 4, 1943. Doyle and Burnett told one of the D.A.’s investigators, B.G. Haworth, that they’d gotten an anonymous call, shortly after 1 a.m., informing them that a man was lying on the sidewalk near 433 S. Olive Street and when they arrived at the scene they had  found Palmer in a drunken stupor.

Palmer denied that he’d been drinking. In fact his story was substantively different from that of the two cops. Palmer claimed that he’d gone to a drugstore about midnight to get some medicine when he was seized and beaten by two police officers at Fifth and Hill Streets. He was thrown into a black and white patrol car and driven around for a while as the two officers took turns choking and kicking him.

Officers Doyle and Burnett suddenly came down with amnesia–they said they had no recollection of an incident like the one described by Palmer. The investigation was tough going–eight policemen and two jail trusties who had worked the fingerprint room on the night of Stanley Beebe’s incarceration in Central Jail were interviewed.  Initially Sergeant Rudolph C. Kucera, made a report to Captain James E. Irwin in which he stated that when he saw Stanley Beebe he looked like he had been beaten–yet when the D.A.’s investigators came around none of them recalled any complaints or beatings. Amnesia was apparently endemic among certain officers in the LAPD.

Assistant D.A. Clyde Shoemaker, who had initiated the investigation into Palmer’s charges said he was puzzled by the discrepancies in the statements and he let it be known that he’d like to speak with any witnesses.

“If anyone was in the vicinity of Fifth and Hill Streets that morning and saw any disturbance, I would like to have them tell me about it.  We are going to continue this investigation until we have arrived at the truth as to what happened.”

Councilman G. Vernon Bennett introduced a resolution at a council meeting:

“Moved that the Board of Police Commissioners be requested to make a thorough investigation of alleged police brutality in the Beebe affair and in the alleged mistreatment of Clark Stamper, a blind worker from the Industrial Workshop for the Blind, apprehended at Seventh and Hill Streets at 11:30 p.m. on his way from work: also in the alleged police beating of James M. Palmer, a watchman 63 years of age.”

Councilman Edward L. Thrasher stated that some older police officers had told him that new vice-squad policemen were running rough-shod over vice suspects booked at the Lincoln Heights Jail:

“The picture as presented to me is that these overzealous young men beat and strike these prisoners, being careful to hit them in the stomach or other places where the blows will not leave marks.”

Mayor Bowron weighed in on the allegations of brutality:

“The matter of alleged police brutality is causing me much serious concern.  I do not countenance this thing any more than any good citizen of Los Angeles.  There has been an unfortunate death under circumstances that make it appear a crime has been committed.  That the deceased came to his death as the result of a violent blow there can be no doubt.  The question is how was the blow inflicted and by whom.

“The investigation now under way will be thorough and complete.  There will be no covering up, there will be no buck passing.  Whoever is guilty will be brought to justice but there will be no scapegoat.”

photog kickedOne of the officers called to the D.A.’s office to make a statement was John M. Yates.  He had been on duty at the booking desk the night Stanley Beebe had been brought in. Officer Yates failed to grasp the importance of being on your best behavior during an investigation into police brutality.  When newspaper photographer Edward Phillips snapped a photo of him the enraged officer kicked the photographer in the balls.

investigationYates offered a creative explanation for the kicking incident.  He said that he’d already been semi-blinded by one photographer’s flash bulb, so when Phillips set off another in his face he started to fall backward. As he struggled to regain his balance his foot flew upward and somehow Phillips fell testicles first onto the upraised foot.

Within four hours of the incident Yates was suspended and ordered to face a trail before a police board of rights.

The investigation of police brutality had turned into a cluster fuck. Officials from Mayor Bowron’s office and from the LAPD were tripping over each other, but whether it was to do the right thing or obfuscate wasn’t entirely clear. Finally D.A. Dockweiler couldn’t take it anymore and ousted all police and city officials who had been involved in the inquiry and announced that his staff alone would undertake the investigation. Dockweiler called it “bad psychology” to expect accurate information from jail trusties, policemen and citizens called as witnesses when they would have to testify in the presence of high ranking police officials.

It’s no wonder some of the witnesses were reluctant to speak. Deputy City Attorney Everett Leighton’s wife picked up their home phone and a man speaking in a gruff voice said:

“If you want that big-mouthed husband of yours to stay alive, tell him to keep his mouth shut.”

Earlier that day Leighton had spoken with Deputy District Attorney Robert Wheeler, the man in charge of the investigation, and told him that when Stanley Beebe had appeared in court at City Jail on the morning after his arrest on intoxication charges he:

“…looked like he had been through a meat grinder. His face was red and puffy.  His eyes were swollen so that he seemed to have difficulty in seeing, but they were not discolored.”

Leighton’s statement corroborated that of Mrs. Martha Hamilton, court reporter, who had been on the job the day of Beebe’s court appearance.

None of the D.A’s investigators had been able to break down the cops they interviewed. Without exception police witnesses stated that Beebe showed no indications of any injuries at any time.

In his deathbed statement Stanley Beebe was unable to name his attacker but described him to his wife as a “tall blonde man”. Without a break in the case it was likely that at least one bad cop, maybe more, would get away with murder.

NEXT TIME:  The investigation continues.

Film Noir Friday: T-Men [1948]

t_men_xlg

Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat.

Tonight’s feature is T-MEN [1948] directed by Anthony Mann and starring Dennis O’Keefe, Mary Meade, Alfred Ryder, Wally Ford, June Lockhart and Charles McGraw.

TCM says:

In Los Angeles, an informant who has promised to turn over a sample of the paper being used by a counterfeiting ring to a U.S. Treasury agent is killed. Later, in Washington, Treasury Department chief Carson assigns Dennis O’Brien and Anthony Genaro to infiltrate the gang through connections in Detroit. O’Brien and Genaro assume the names Vannie Harrigan and Tony Galvani, respectively, and create personal background histories to support their new identities. After the Detroit police cooperate by identifying them as robbery suspects, the agents contact with local crime boss Carlo Vantucci, who runs a produce market as a front. Vantucci checks them out and hires them to work in his counterfeit liquor stamps racket, where they soon discover the name of the mob’s Los Angeles connection, The Schemer.

Cops Behaving Badly: The Death of Stanley Beebe, Part 1

beebe death studiedFrom the 1920s through the 1950s political corruption, police pay-offs and rumors of police brutality were part of life in Los Angeles. Countless books (read any of James Ellroy’s novels), newspaper articles and angry editorials have been written on the topic.

There were many instances of malfeasance in the city. From the framing of city councilman Carl Jacobson, a vice crusader, on morals charges by political enemies in 1927, to the “Bloody Christmas” beatings of prisoners by LAPD officers in 1951 the city was up to its eyeballs in excrement.

On December 19, 1943 Mr. Stanley H. Beebe, a 44-year-old certified public accountant with a job in the war industry, was pulled off of a streetcar at First and Hill for public intoxication. He was booked by Sergeant J.E. Martin then transferred to Lincoln Heights Jail. His wife Maxine turned up and paid the $10 fine–Stanley was kicked loose.

Maxine was horrified by Stan’s condition. He had a couple of shiners and a large hourglass-shaped bruise (which looked like a shoe print) on his abdomen. He couldn’t stand up straight and she had to help him into the taxi that took them to their apartment at 1819 N. Kingsley Drive. Stan told Maxine that he had been kicked in the stomach by one of the officers and that he had been vomiting and in excruciating pain ever since.

The day following her husband’s release Maxine phoned the Police Department to make a complaint–she reported what her husband had told her, that he had been beaten severely by officers while in custody. Her complaint went nowhere until Stan died of a ruptured bladder, which had resulted in peritonitis, at General Hospital on December 29th and his widow took her complaint higher up the food chain to the District Attorney and the Coroner.

With the news of Stan’s death, Detective Lieutenant Lloyd Hurst was tasked with investigating Maxine’s complaint. Every officer who admitted to having seen Beebe the night of his arrest stated that the man had not been assaulted while in their custody. LAPD wasn’t going to be solely responsible for the investigation into Beebe’s death, however.  District Attorney John F. Dockweiler assigned Deputy District Attorney Robert G. Wheeler and Investigators Charles Ebbets, Everett Davis and Kenneth Gillie to check out the allegations.

Dockweiler told newspaper reporters:

“Police brutality, if any exists, cannot be condoned in this community.  I have ordered a thorough investigation into the death of Mr. Beebe to determine the truth of his charges that he was fatally injured by police officers while under arrest.”

The 1943 grand jury would review the case as soon as it was impaneled.

D.A. Dockweiler pressed Chief of Police Horrall for his department’s cooperation in the investigation of Beebe’s death. Horrall (who would be involved in a vice/corruption scandal just a few years later) pledged LAPD’s full cooperation.

LAPD Chief C.B. Horrall inspecting Detective Division c. 1947.  [Photo courtesy UCLA Digital Collection.]

LAPD Chief C.B. Horrall inspecting Detective Division c. 1947. [Photo courtesy UCLA Digital Collection.]

Coroner Nance weighed in with his findings in Beebe’s autopsy. He stated that Stan had died of peritonitis  the result of a ruptured gall bladder.  To head off any attempts to blame the deceased’s death on a diseased gall bladder, Nance made it crystal clear that the organ had been healthy until it was damaged by an external blow–and there were plenty of bruises to prove his assertion.

Nance said:

“I intend to find out who kicked or struck this man in the abdomen.  The police and District Attorney have promised me full cooperation and I have deferred the inquest until

I have their complete list of witnesses.”

He continued:

“Whatever happens, I will not close this case until I am satisfied that every bit of available evidence has been made available at the inquest.”

The  D.A.’s investigators questioned more than 60 men who had shared the drunk tank with Stan on the night of his incarceration. Jail trustees were also grilled.

Otto Schalinske, the Central Jail turnkey, was summoned to Wheeler’s office for questioning but he didn’t go alone, he was accompanied by Chief Horrall and Vernon Rasmussen, chief of the police homicide detail. There was no way the conversation among the men could be kept secret and portions of their meeting was printed in theL.A. Times:

Wheeler spoke with Schalinske:

“Were you the officer who removed Beebe from the chair in the lieutenant’s office after he had telephoned his wife?”

“I am,” Schalinske answered.  “I removed him gently and did not harm him.”

“Did you hit Beebe in the jaw when he remonstrated against being confined in the jail, and when his chair overtunred kick him in the abdomen?”

“No,” Schalinske replied.  “I just took him to the tank.”

Wheeler was quick to point out that question the officers didn’t mean that they were guilty of anything–he was simply seeking the truth.

Wheeler admitted that he was troubled by the fact that the entire investigation was “pigeonholed by the police for more than a week after Beebe’s death, despite the pleas of relatives for an active investigation.”

Investigators were also trying to find out what had happened to the $40 that Stan supposedly had in his wallet shortly before his arrest.

One of the policemen questioned, Sergeant R.C. Kucera, had visited Beebe at General Hospital and could bear witness to the number and extent of the man’s injuries which included two discolored eyes, a black and blue mark two inches in diameter on the center of his abdomen, abrasions of the left groin and a black and blue mark the size of a half dollar on his throat.

So far the investigation seemed to substantiate Maxine’s assertion that Stan had been badly beaten by cops; however the most damning piece of evidence was Stan’s death bed statement.  It was reprinted verbatim in the L.A. Times and I’m reprinting it here because I think it is important to hear the incident described by Stan in his own words.

On this Christmas Eve–December 24, 1942–a statement to the best of my memory as what happened the night of the 199th as long as I could remember, recorded by my wife in a question-and-answer form–

Q:When did you get on the Hill St. trolley?
A: About 6:30 to 6:45 at my usual place, Seventh and Hill Sts.  I was feeling kind of sick as the car was crowded and the air was bad, so I stood near the door trying to get some air.
Q: Then what happened?
A: Every street the car stopped I leaned out of the door and got a few gulps of air–some comments were made about blocking the roadway and I answered back–more words were said and then I commented about these people who should be doing things for the country and didn’t.
Q: Then what happened?
A: The conductor asked a darked-haired man of small build to take me off the trolley for making a disturbance.
Q: Who was this dark-haired man?
A: At first I didn’t know but he showed his badge and said he was a sergeant of the police and that I had better come with him to the police station as I was not in apparently good condition.
Q: Did you resist?
A: Oh, no!  I told him this was a free country.  We were fighting for freedom overseas and we should maintain it here.  I certainly want to maintain it here and want to go with him at once.
Q: Then what happened?
A: I went into the police station with him.
Q: Can you describe the station house to me?
A: Oh, yes, you come into the door and on the right side there is a door about 8-10 feet from the entrance.  On the left side there is a long counter–I should say about 25-30 feet long.
Q: Was there anybody around when you came in?
A: Yes, behind the counter there was a man sitting and I believe there was a phone but I can’t remember.
Q: Did this man say anything to you? And can you describe him?
A: He didn’t say much. He made some comments and said something to my escort.
Q: Up to this time did anyone touch you or harm you in any way?
A: No!
Q: Then what happened?
A: I was taken into the room I told you about at first on the right-hand side.  My escort spoke to the man sitting at the desk there.
Q: Please tell me about the room!
A: When you walk in the room is on the right-hand side.  There is a small roll-top desk and a swivel chair.  Next to that is a window.  In the diagonal opposite corner of this desk is a table-top desk with some phones on it.  It was one of these phones I used to call you.  Next to this desk is a door which was closed.  And that’s all that impressed me except that the air was bad and hot and the room very small.
Q: Then what happened?
A: I called you on the phone and told you the circumstances and you spoke to the blond man who was sitting at the desk.
Q: Do you know his name?
A: I was told but it is not a usual name so I didn’t remember.
Q: Do you remember the name of the man who brought you in?
A: I believe it was (censored) or (censored).  The man at the desk began to speak to me in an uncivil tone and in language which doesn’t or didn’t seem necessary or warranted.  He would not let me say anything and said I was to be arrested, fingerprinted and jailed.
Q: What happened then?
A: I told him I had committed not crime, was never arrested and neither were any of my antecedents and that at 44 I wasn’t going to start a record.
Q: Then what happened?
A: At this point (censored) or (censored) came in and the man who was using toughy methods, he took a swing at me and hit me in the side of the jaw.  I was kind of stunned but I (two words undecipherable) going to take a swing at him and missed him and accidently hit (censored) for which I am very sorry.
Q: Then what happened?
A: They wanted to take me back somewhere and I wouldn’t get out of the chair as I said it was my civil right to speak.  At that point the big man took another swing and hit me in the eye.  I was holding on to the chair with both arms and would not let go.  He turned the chair over with me in it and kicked me in the chest twice with his shoe-toe.  Then he and (censored) took me by my arms and hands and started dragging me back to the back of the building through a corridor.  At this point the big man said, “I like to fix up a guy like you.”  As they was dragging me I was trying to get up but I couldn’t and the big man kept kicking me in the side of my stomach.  Finally he became so incensed that he stamped his whole foot on my stomach.  After that I am quite vague.  I do now I received a few more blows, one in the eye.  Not the (undecipherable) one and a kick in the groin.  Also a few more punches inthe face and they did something to my throat but I can’t tell you what, as I was in too much agony.  I know I stood up before another man and they took my fingerprints to, but after that stomach blow I was out on my feet. Finally I was taken somewhere else where there were a lot of men around who also were arrested.  I was in agony and one o f the m en gave me a place to sit.  We must have sat quite a while then we were taken in a van to another place.  I could hardly walk and some of the other poor devils helped me into the van.
Q: Then what happened?
A: When we got to the other place I asked for a doctor and the watcher or guard said he would get one.
Q: When did he come?
A: He never came although I asked for him for separate times.
Q: Then what happened?
A: I could hold no water on my stomach and I had diarrhea.  Gosh, I was so thirsty!
Q: Then what happened?
A: Then, thank God. I saw you in the other room and I knew that soon I could get home home to bed and some care.
Q: Is there anything else you want to say?
A: Yes, darling, please try to do something for someone else so no one person has to go through what we are suffering and let’s not tell mother anything (as we wouldn’t have her Christmas spoiled for anything.) It doesn’t matter for me as I am a goner.
Q: Please, Stan, must you put this in?
A: Absolutely, and be sure and leave it there as I am going to read this statement all through and sign on the very last line to be sure that you haven’t left out the end as that is very essential.
(Signed)
STANLEY H. BEEBE

A parade of police and civilians who were in Central Station during Stan’s alleged beating were questioned. The police officers who were interviewed said that they hadn’t seen or heard a thing that was out of line.

If Stan’s statement was false then he had managed to erode the public’s trust in their police department and, additionally, sullied the reputations of members of the LAPD for no good reason.

But what if Stan had told the truth? If his statement was true then no citizen of Los Angeles could feel safe in the presence of the people who had sworn to protect and serve them.

Newspaper accounts suggested that a Blue Wall of Silence was being constructed–it was going to take committed investigators to discover the truth.

NEXT TIME: The investigation into Stanley Beebe’s death continues.