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 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.
Beer, a fight, fatal gunfire
Off-duty city police officer dies at hands of colleague
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