America's most famous cop is Lieutenant Joe Friday of the Los Angeles Police Department. Friday, unlike other celebrated cops, private and public, is not concerned with little gray cells, hothouse orchids or shapely, wise-cracking secretaries. He just wants the facts, ma'am, and within 30 minutes (including breaks for commercials) he's got them and his man. Friday, alas, is but a solemn actor named Jack Webb on a TV show named Dragnet. The Los Angeles Police Department could certainly have used Joe Friday last week to find out what really happened to Jackie Leonard.
Leonard is the boxing promoter at the Hollywood Legion Stadium who said he was slugged in his garage on the night of June 3 because he did not comply with the mob's attempts to cut themselves in on Welterweight Champion Don Jordan (SI, June 15). And on June 4 the Los Angeles chief of police, William H. Parker, emphatically agreed with Leonard. It was, he said, "a blueprint" of a mob job—it proved what he had been saying all along about the Mafia. Then one day last week Chief Parker reversed his script in a fashion that would have made matter-of-fact Joe Friday consider firing his writers.
Without notifying either the U.S. Attorney or the Los Angeles district attorney who had organized grand jury hearings as a result of his previously positive pronouncements about the source of Jackie's predicament, Chief Parker released a statement to the press which would justify use of the melodramatic word "bombshell" to describe its effect on the local scene.
"We have carefully amassed and evaluated all known available facts," Chief Parker announced guardedly. "It is the considered and unanimous opinion of our investigating officers assigned to this case that the physical facts fail to support the probability that Mr. Leonard was subject to assault as originally reported.
"It now appears that Mr. Leonard suffered some acute physical incapacitation of a stunning nature that produced an illusion of assault. In light of the known threats to his physical well-being, it is easy to understand the basis for such an erroneous impression.
"Thus, there has been experienced a most amazing coincidence that is literally 'one for the books.' This development will not alter the activities of law enforcement agencies in relation to the other phases of the boxing inquiry."
And thus, with one studiedly elliptical, astonishing, medico-legal statement, the police have, it seems, closed the book on "one for the books." But Jackie Leonard, nevertheless, still says, "I was hit."
The apparent foundation for Chief Parker's new conclusions are as follows:
First, Leonard should have suffered more severe injuries: Leonard's doctors say that their tests showed cerebral damage and partial paralysis of the right side. But five or six days after Leonard was admitted to the hospital, Chief Parker sent Dr. Charles F. Sebastian around to see him. Dr. Sebastian, who for years has been running the police receiving hospital and has seen multitudes of accident cases, was at pains to point out that he did not examine Leonard, merely observed him. "I did not want to violate the privacy of the patient," was his excuse. Dr. Sebastian's conclusion, as reported to the Chief, was that he did not believe there was sufficient visible injury to produce the symptoms complained of by Leonard.
Leonard says that Sebastian talked to him "a maximum of two minutes. He looked at the scratch on my back and my nose and that's all." In addition, Dr. Sebastian, according to Leonard and one of his doctors, did get permission to examine Leonard fully and was offered his neurological records but did not want to see them.