Without approving of his criminal activity in any way, we'd still recommend you read this George Hunter piece on the criminal career and recent death of Harry "Taco" Bowman, one-time leader of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, a Metro Detroiter who died in prison Sunday at 69. It's yet another of those wrong-turn cautionary tales that makes you wonder what kind of life Taco might have had, if he'd only made a few different choices along the road of life.
Bowman was arrested in 1999 in Sterling Heights and never lived another day as a free man, but earned the grudging respect of one Detroit cop who pursued him over the years. Hunter writes:
"He was quite a charismatic guy," said Philip Reich, who served on the Detroit Police Department's motorcycle gang detail from 1985 to 1991. "I can't say I admired what he did for a living, but I admired his leadership abilities. But we did our best to put him away."
Reich, who retired in 2007, said Bowman lived with his wife and his two daughters, who were enrolled in private schools.
"Taco’s family lived in a modest home in Grosse Pointe Farms, and he drove around in a bulletproof Cadillac," Reich said. "He was a very interesting, bright guy."
Taco was able to evade capture for years, keeping a low profile, but was flushed out when the FBI added him to their Most Wanted list a year previous to his arrest.
In addition to the usual outlaw-biker activities -- drug dealing, extortion, murder -- the Outlaws had their legitimate businesses, including a T-shirt and bike shop in the Eastern Market, off Russell, Reich said:
One popular T-shirt design that Bowman sold featured two pistols pointing at the Renaissance Center with the caption: "Visit Detroit, Murder City."
He got his nickname because his brothers thought he looked Hispanic. Pour one out today for Taco, if you're so inclined.