‘Eddie Haskell’ from ‘Leave it to Beaver’ dead at 76. Survived being shot three times as a real life cop in LA.

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Los Angeles, CA – Ken Osmond has died. He is probably better known to people as Eddie Haskell. He played the conniving character from 1957 to 1963 on TV’s Leave It To Beaver.

To his family, the most important work he did was as a husband to Sandra, and father to his sons, Christian and Eric. 

“He was an incredibly kind and wonderful father,” Eric said in a statement. “He had his family gathered around him when he passed. He was loved and will be very missed.”

To the people of Los Angeles, his finest work may have taken place between 1970 and 1988. After spending time in the US Army Reserve, Osmond joined the Los Angeles Police Department, serving there for 18 years. A line of duty injury suffered in 1980 forced his retirement. 

After joining the LAPD, he grew a mustache to help hide his identity. He worked as a motorcycle officer. On September 20, 1980, Osmond and his partner, Henry Lane, were working in the Rampart Division.

Their assignment was DUI enforcement. Through the events of the shift, the partners found themselves in a foot pursuit of a suspected car thief.

Osmond was shot three times during that chase. Two of the bullets impacted his vest, while the third round ricocheted off his belt buckle. 

His story was dramatized in a 1992 episode of the CBS series Top Cops. Osmond himself narrated the episode. Here is that story, in his words. 

“It was an extremely warm night. Around 11:30 we pulled into a fire station to take a short break.”

The episode portrays some dialogue between Osmond, his partner and a couple of firemen who recognize him. Osmond took off his shirt to put on his vest, commenting that he wasn’t previously wearing it because of how warm it was outside. 

“Bulletproof vests weren’t mandatory equipment in 1980. And back then, they were very bulky and uncomfortable. But Henry and I knew how important they were and always put them on as soon as it was tolerable to wear them,” his narration continued. 

As they are pulling out of the station, a dispatcher came on the radio detailing a report of a stolen taxi. The dispatcher gives the details of the vehicle, including cab number and California license plate number. 

“About an hour later, we were at Alvarado and 8th. A popular place for us, because on Friday night, almost every other driver who goes past has been drinking.”

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As they sat watching traffic, the stolen cab drove by. Falling in behind him, they began there pursuit. 

“We had just gotten in behind him when he pulled to the curb. I pulled up behind and went to the passenger door. I wasn’t sure of he had seen us or not, so I moved quickly to get the drop on him.”

Osmond made contact with the suspect, who then sped off. Getting back on their bikes, they resumed pursuit and called in the details of the suspect. 

“In L.A., a pursuit call is the equivalent of a help call,” Osmond said. “Other unit started to converge and back us up and were hopefully only minutes away.

He took a hard left on Rampart Street, then made another left at the next corner, which was 7th Street.”

Not being able to maintain the turn at the speed he was going, the suspect plowed into a parked car, disabling the cab. At that point, he jumped out and began fleeing on foot. 

“He ran down the street and down an alley next to an apartment block. We were still on our bikes and he was on foot. At this point, neither Henry or I knew that he had a weapon.”

At that point, they came to a fence where he turned and pointed a gun at them. They could no longer pursue the fleeing suspect on their motorcycles. Following him on foot, they continued down the alley. The man turned and pointed his gun again, and Lane fired, grazing the suspect in the side. 

“Henry took some shots at him. The bullet went through his jacket, skimming his side. It knocked him down, but it didn’t stop him.”

Again the car thief ran, stopped and leveled his gun. Lane fired again. 

“Henry’s gun was now empty. His second volley hit him on his other side, but he still kept running. The suspect took the corner and eastbound on 7th. For a second, he was out of sight. Then I saw him. He turned into a building and I assumed he went inside.”

The depiction shows Osmond walking down the side of the building and the suspect stepping out right in front of him, gun pointed at his chest. 

“We were virtually toe to toe. I never heard a gunshot, I never heard any noise. I just saw flash bulbs going off in my face. At that range, the bullets hit you at a velocity of 300 miles per hour. So I don’t remember shooting him.

I don’t remember anything before I hit the ground. Henry was reloading as I fell and the suspect was moving in to finish me off. I was gone, dazed with the breath knocked out of me.He leaned in for the coup de grâce.”

Before he was able to fire another shot, Lane tackled him to the ground and they began struggling for control. 

“I saw my left hand stretched out next to me with my gun in it. I don’t know how it got there, because I am right-handed. I tried to fire, but I couldn’t.”

Lane was able to fire a shot that incapacitated the shooter. 

“Two of the shots had been stopped by my vest, the third hit my belt buckle. It was unbelievable luck. None had penetrated, but they had hot so hard, I had three 10” bruises that went for a week. And I still have scars.

Backup and paramedics had arrived, and because it was only a one-man ambulance, the suspect and I rode to the hospital together.”

According to the re-enactment, the suspects name was Norcross. He was out on parole after being convicted of stabbing his girlfriend 27 times. 

“Henry Lane saved my life that night and was awarded a much deserved medal of valor. But that shooting marked the beginning of the end of my second career. 30 days later, I was in a second shootout, were a .357 bullet grazed my scalp.

Besides the physical injuries, like a lot of cops who have been in shootings, I had a lot of emotional problems. Four years later, I retired as a result of lingering medical problems from the shooting. 

I had a tough time at first, but my wife, and friends like Henry, they saw me through. As terrifying as that night was, it also renews my joy of life. You know, when you realize your own mortality, you don’t take things for granted anymore. You become aware of the little things. And I am never going to lose that feeling.”


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