Police in Battle With Rum Car

Police Battle With Rum Car - October 14th, 1921 (Washington Times)
Police Battle With Rum Car – October 14th, 1921 (Washington Times)

Prohibition was a rowdy time in D.C., much like the rest of the country. The police had to deal with bootleggers constantly in the city. This article from the Washington Times illustrates that in dramatic fashion. The piece was written in the Washington Times, published on October 14th, 1921 (by the way, the first radio broadcast of a World Series game was nine days earlier — game one between the Yankees and Giants).

One of the wildest chases and battles in the history of the local Police Department ended this afternoon with an automobile crash in which two persons were injured.

Shortly after noon today Detectives Berry and Mansfield, of the Fourth precinct, noticed a car driven by Leonard Dashback, twenty-nine years old, 901 Thirteenth street northwest, and carrying William Bectan [sic], nineteen, 617 Half street southwest, and William Ryan twenty-one, 1327 Tenth street northwest, which they suspected was loaded with liquor.

They gave chase as the car passed the crossing at Four-and-a-half and M streets southwest going at high speed. The detectives were in a Ford car. They allege that the three men were going at a speed of sixty miles an hour.

The chase led to the southeast section of the city, with the detectives traveling at forty-five miles an hour, being left rapidly behind.

As the speeding car was drawing out of sight, the detectives saw it suddenly careen and crash into an automobile near the curb on New Jersey avenue at M street southeast. The driver of this car was hurled to the curb and cut about the head. A woman riding in the car had a badly wrenched ankle.

As the bootleg car collided it caromed off and skidded 150 feet, crashing across the sidewalk. The three men jumped out uninjured. As the detectives approached it is alleged that Dashback pulled a .44 revolver and Beckton a .38, and that they defied the officers to “come and get them.”

The detectives, drawing their revolvers, showed their badges and advanced on the three men, who, apparently convinced of the folly of resistance, hurled their revolvers into the wrecked automobile and surrendered.

The occupants of the car which was struck by the bootleg machine were not badly hurt. They are Lawrence Simi, 1289 New Jersey avenue southeast, and Bessie Miller, 1285 New Jersey avenue southeast.

As the detectives approached the bootleg car they noticed a strong odor of alcohol and found in the machine ten or a dozen broken one-gallon glass bottles. The machine was saturated with liquor, which was dripping from every part of the car.

Four one-gallon bottles of gin remained intact, the detectives declare. They estimate that fully ten gallons were destroyed by the men during their flight.

The three men were taken to the Fourth precinct station, where they are being held on $10,000 bonds each.

Seven charges have been preferred against Dashback. They are: Transporting liquor, carrying concealed weapons, failure to stop upon command, speeding, running on the wrong side of the street, and a charge of assault preferred by the injured woman.

Beckton is charged with carrying concealed weapons and transporting liquor. Ryan is being held for collaboration in transporting.

er a thrilling chase through the busiest streets of Washington, ... a couple of bootleggers and their car come to grief at the hands of the Capitol police - January 21st, 1922
er a thrilling chase through the busiest streets of Washington, … a couple of bootleggers and their car come to grief at the hands of the Capitol police – January 21st, 1922

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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