Toughest cop in America

In 2001, Charles Adamson, who had been a cop in Chicago, published a biography of Frank Pape called The Toughest Cop in America. Pape had been Adamson’s mentor on the force, and the biography offered a very positive view of Pape’s sometimes controversial career.

In the book, Adamson offered accounts of many of the cases that were solved by Pape and his colleagues on Chicago’s robbery squad. One such tale involved Edward Damiani, who was arrested with Alvin Krause and charged with killing a currency exchange employee during a robbery in 1943. Damiani was put through a twelve hour interrogation by the detectives before he confessed. Adamson quoted one of the detectives involved in the interrogation as telling another detective that “you wouldn’t want to go through what that punk did, no way” (Adamson p. 20).

At Damiani’s trial, Pape testified about Damiani’s confession. It was admitted into evidence over the objection of Damiani’s attorney, who argued the confession should be excluded because Damiani had been subjected to the third degree to coerce him into confessing (Chicago Tribune, February 6, 1944, p. 16).

Then Damiani took the stand to elaborate on what that meant. Most notably, he claimed that during the twelve hour interrogation he was hanged by his cuffed wrists from a door. During his testimony, Damiani also admitted under oath that he released the gas that asphyxiated the currency exchange worker, killing her (Chicago Tribune, February 9, 1944, p.1).

Damiani’s admission proved more important than his claim of torture. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison (Chicago Tribune, February 11, 1944, p.1).

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Writer. Formerly civil rights attorney. Currently professor. Working on new book about mental disability and criminal law in the 20th century.

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