KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY BY GUNSHOT
End of Watch: November 27, 1921
Appointed: Fairmount park officer
Officer Hanley, was thirty-five years old and lived at 825 Windsor Square, near 21st and Brown Street he was shot twice, shortly at 16th and the Parkway. The slayer was in a stolen motorcar and shot when Officer Hanley asked for his driver’s license. Two youths, Max Burman, of Market Street near 34th., and William Present, of Boston each eighteen, were in the machine when Hastings shot Hanley, who was acting as a traffic policeman.
They were arrested when Hanley was shot. Since his arrest, Hastings maintained a defiant attitude although detectives had wound a strong circumstantial case around him, until he was “stood up” today during the roll call of Detectives in City Hall. Hastings, who is thirty and says his home is in Vermont was placed on a small raised platform facing the lines of detectives. Burman was placed on one side of him and Present on the other. In view of Hastings attitude, the detectives expected nothing from him in the form of an admission. Therefore, Captain Souder adopted a different attitude in questioning him.
“I can’t understand how a man in fear of spending a few days in jail could, in cold blood, kill a police officer or any other individual in the hope of escaping that jail term,” said the Detective Captain, pointing an accusing finger at Hastings. “In this case you dug your hand into your pocket as Officer Hanley asked for your automobile card, and as if to bring it out-but no- you shot him in cold blood.” Sweat stood out on Hastings brow and he began to whimper. He leaned forward and seemed as if he would fall. He recovered his balance and cried: “I didn’t shoot him.” “Did you shoot him? asked Captain Souder, turning to Burman. “I did not. “He did,” said the youth as he pointed to Hasting. Hastings shook nervously and Captain Souder paid no attention to him. “Did you kill him?” he said turning to Present. “No, sir, I did not,” Present replied. He turned to Hastings and pointed his finger in the face. “He shot him in cold blood.” Then Hastings broke down, “Well, I did do it, but I did it in self-defense,” he cried. The detectives broke into titters at the self-defense plea. For a moment the dramatic effect the Detective Captain had been working for was lost. He reprimanded his men, then turned to the prisoner and his words fell in sharp staccato: “You did it?” “Yes, I did. I fired, one shot. When he Park Guard, stepped up to the machine I told him to put up his hands. He reached into his pocket to get his gun and I shot him.” Hastings was turned over to Lieutenant Belshaw and Mulgrew, of the Murder Squad, and they obtained a detailed confession from him. On December 22, 1921 James Hastings was tried and found guilty of 1st Degree Murder before Judge Rodgers and sentenced to death.