Lester Freamon is an older African American detective in the Baltimore Police Department's Major Crimes Unit. He is a slow and methodical detective who quietly makes major contributions to the series investigations.
Detective Lester Freamon is a twenty year veteran of the force who established a reputation early on as "natural police" for his tenacity and intelligence. His first major unit was Homicide, but in 1989, acting against the orders of the Deputy Commissioner, he charged a politically connected stolen goods fence to coerce his testimony in a homicide case. Though the case was successfully closed, the Deputy still had Freamon transferred to the Pawnshop unit as a punishment. Freamon wound up spending thirteen years and four months in the assignment, until he had been completely forgotten by the higher brass. Deskbound in an office for more than a decade, Freamon began making dollhouse furniture, a hobby which provides him great supplemental income, but also contributes to his eccentric reputation among fellow police.
When the initial Barksdale detail was formed, Freamon was transferred in because he was viewed as a useless "hump", and the higher-ups had no wish to provide good detectives who would make a large case. After he overheard an offhand comment by Detective Greggs, Freamon tracked down the only known photo of Avon Barksdale, finally giving the unit a face to put to the name. He further impressed his colleagues when he found D'Angelo Barksdale's pager number at an abandoned stash house. Impressed by Freamon's capabilities, fellow detective Jimmy McNulty inquires about him in a conversation with Bunk Moreland who claims Freamon is an ex-homicide detective. McNulty then at the bar with Lester inquiring into his history finding out that Freamon was sent to the Pawn Shop unit for angering the Deputy Ops. McNulty is then warned about how his superior officers will send him to an undesirable unit at the conclusion of the case.
Freamon proved himself quite adept at the details of wiretap usage; he recognized patterns of pager messages and telephone calls which gave several advances in the Barksdale case, most notably finding the main stash house in Pimlico. He also led the investigation into the Barksdale's financial records and found their various political connections, instructing Sydnor and Pryzbylewski in the process of following the paper trail. He also recruited Shardene Innes, one of the dancers in Barksdale's strip club, as an informant, beginning a romantic relationship with her in the process.
After Detective Greggs is shot, Freamon tracked a page made by Wee-Bey Brice, one of the shooters, to a pay phone where he found evidence implicating the other shooter, Little Man. He then used a contact from his pawn shop days (now working for a phone company) to trace call patterns and pinpoint Wee-Bey's whereabouts, leading to his arrest and conviction.
Following the dissolution of the detail, Major Rawls noted Freamon's effectiveness as a detective and transferred him into Homicide, to which Freamon happily returned. Rawls had made room for Freamon in Homicide by dumping McNulty to the Marine Unit in the exacting fashion that Freamon described.
Freamon was partnered with Bunk Moreland, and they were quickly recognised as the best detectives in Homicide. Landsman assigned them a seemingly impossible case involving the deaths of fourteen Jane Does. They were detailed the officer from the Port Authority, Beatrice "Beadie" Russell, who had initially found the bodies in a shipping container on the docks. The girls suffocated after the air pipe was deliberately closed off (other than one girl who was murdered and thrown overboard on the previous night).
Freamon and Bunk held the vessel that delivered the container at a Philadelphia port while they tried to question the crew. None of the crew would admit to speaking English, and they let the ship go after learning that two crewmen had jumped ship after Baltimore. Based on the few sparse facts they knew, Freamon and Bunk deduced that the women were prostitutes being smuggled in from overseas, that one of the girls was murdered by a sailor after refusing sex, and the rest were killed for witnessing the crime. The murderer was one of those who fled, so the investigation was at an impasse, and Freamon and Bunk came under heavy criticism from a frustrated Rawls for releasing the ship without getting statements.
Freamon was relieved to be requested by Daniels for the detail assigned to Frank Sobotka and the dockworker union. Though he continued to assist Bunk and Russell in the Homicide investigation, his primary focus became investigating smuggling through the Baltimore ports. On Russell's advice, Freamon convinced Daniels to clone the port's computers to track container movements. They were able to follow containers being moved illegally to a warehouse, ultimately linking Sobotka to the criminal activities of The Greek. The investigation closed with several arrests and, in the process, Freamon matched a dismembered body killed by The Greek's crew as one of the crewmen who jumped ship. Bunk and Freamon solved the Jane Doe homicides after Sergei filled them in on the details they needed, and Landsman and Rawls were again content with the Homicide unit's clearance rate.
Freamon stayed with Daniels in his new permanently established Major Case Unit, building a case against their assigned target, a small-time drug dealer named Kintel Williamson. Throughout the Season Freamon acted as a mediator between Daniels and McNulty. McNulty clashed with Daniels over the investigative targets and was urged by Freamon not to attempt any insubordinate moves as Daniels was the commanding officer who got McNulty out of the marine unit. When the unit's focus returned to the Barksdales, Freamon was stumped by the new trend, using disposable cellular phones, finishing their pre-paid minutes before a wiretap can be approved. He masterminded a scheme wherein he went undercover as a con artist selling illegally recharged disposable phones (already wiretapped) to a Barksdale underling named Bernard whom Bubbles got him close to. Avon Barksdale himself was caught in a safehouse filled with weapons and returned to prison, though an also-implicated Stringer Bell was murdered before he could be arrested. 
Since Daniels was promoted to Major, Freamon is now the guiding force behind the Major Case Unit. The unit is running a wiretap on the Stanfield Organization, though Freamon is disappointed that Stanfield's lack of discipline is making the investigation too easy. Meanwhile, he continues to follow the Barksdale money trail, subpoenaing the financial records of state senator Clay Davis and property developer Andy Krawczyk. Freamon wrongly believes that Mayor Royce would not risk interfering with a criminal investigation to help them, because of the upcoming election. Feeling pressure from both, Royce angrily goes to Burrell and Rawls and forces them to deal with it. Burrell asks who is responsible for the subpoenas and Rawls correctly assumes Freamon as the lead instigator. In order to appease Mayor Royce, Rawls concludes that "proper supervision" will keep the unit under control and prevent them from moving forward. He installs a new commander, Lieutenant Marimow, aka "The Unit Killer", who immediately butts heads with Freamon by attempting to bring down the wiretap. Freamon is sent to Rawls who correctly assumes Freamon is willing to go to Judge Davis to keep his wiretap running. Rawls recognizing Freamon's past instances of angering the department's upper command points out Freamon's "gift for martyrdom" and instead subtly threatens his protegés Greggs and Sydnor whom he claims will be the victim of Freamon's mistakes. Freamon agrees to allow the wiretap to be disconnected, but refuses to work under Marimow.
Out of respect for his shrewd investigative tactics, Rawls transfers Freamon back into the Homicide Unit, where Bunk has been investigating the murder of Stanfield drug dealer Fruit and the disappearance of suspect Curtis "Lex" Anderson. They both recognize that Stanfield likely had Lex killed in retribution, but are unable to find the body anywhere. Freamon further observes that Stanfield is not tied to any murders since the Barksdale Gang War ended, and begins to scour Baltimore for any trace of the bodies he knows must be hidden somewhere.
Herc unwittingly provides Freamon with a key clue, a nail gun he noticed when he pulled over Chris and Snoop. Pryzbylewski (now a teacher) provides second-hand information as to where Lex was killed. While checking abandoned row houses in that immediate area, Freamon notices that one of the doors was nailed with very different nails than all the others, and realizes that Lex's body must be in that house. He further concludes that the Stanfield gang is leaving bodies in row houses all over the City. With the nails identifying which houses are doubling as tombs, more than twenty bodies are found.
Daniels, now a colonel gaining political traction, regains control over the Major Case unit. He offers Freamon carte blanche, including the right to pick his own commander. Freamon assembles his team, and begins investigating Stanfield again, but Stanfield has been mentored by Proposition Joe, and is no longer as sloppy as he was. 
|Season 1 appearances|
|"The Target"||"The Detail"||"The Buys"||"Old Cases"||"The Pager"|
|"The Wire"||"One Arrest"||"Lessons"||"Game Day"||"The Cost"|
|"The Hunt"||"Cleaning Up"||"Sentencing"|
|Season 2 appearances|
|"Ebb Tide"||"Collateral Damage"||"Hot Shots"||"Hard Cases"||"Undertow"|
|"All Prologue"||"Backwash"||"Duck and Cover"||"Stray Rounds"||"Storm Warnings"|
|"Bad Dreams"||"Port in a Storm"|
|Season 3 appearances|
|"Time after Time"||"All Due Respect"||"Dead Soldiers"||"Amsterdam"||"Straight and True"|
|"Homecoming"||"Back Burners"||"Moral Midgetry"||"Slapstick"||"Reformation"|
|"Middle Ground"||"Mission Accomplished"|
|Season 4 appearances|
|"Boys of Summer"||"Soft Eyes"||"Home Rooms"||"Refugees"||"Alliances"|
|"Margin of Error"||"Unto Others"||"Corner Boys"||"Know Your Place"||"Misgivings"|
|"A New Day"||"That's Got His Own"||"Final Grades"|
|Season 5 appearances|
|"More with Less"||"Unconfirmed Reports"||"Not for Attribution"||"Transitions"||"React Quotes"|
|"The Dickensian Aspect"||"Took"||"Clarifications"||"Late Editions"||"–30–"|