Law & Order (1990–2010): Season 11, Episode 6 - Law & Order - full transcript

A community activist who was formerly a Black Panther is accused of killing a police officer. He claims self-defense because of the history of police violence against African-Americans.

Are you wondering how healthy the food you are eating is? Check it -
In the criminal justice system

the people are represented by two
separate yet equally important groups,

the police
who investigate crime

and the district attorneys
who prosecute the offenders.

These are their stories.

Yo, you gonna let Jaycee
chill in your crib?

Say, he's got
no other place to go.

Why don't he go home?

His moms don't let him
miss school, B.

Oh, but it's all right
with you, though.

What am I, the principal?


Yo, he a cop!

SERGEANT BOWERS: His name is Jake Kearsey.
Detective second grade.

He worked out of
our robbery squad.

You knew him?

I had a few beers with him. Wife
and two kids up in Rockland.

ED: How old?

Girl's 14,15.
Son's a few years younger.

You check the weapon?

Yeah, two rounds missing
from the clip.

We found the spent shells
in the hallway.

And entry craters
in the plaster here.

Uh-huh. ED: Any of
the neighbors home?

They must be at work.

BRISCOE: Which of your guys
got here first?

Muniz and Nelson. They're with
the two kids who called it in.

The apartment door was
like this when they got here?

BOWERS: No, it was locked When they saw
Jake on the floor they busted it in.

Whoever was in there
is in the wind.

Unless the shooter caught
Kearsey's fire.

You know what, check
the local E.R.'s

and get the borough to broadcast an
alarm on reported gunshot victims.

What happened up here, fellas?

I dunno. We was leaving my apartment to go to work.
Then we just seen him like that.

But we called 9-1-1
right away, though.

You both live here?
Just me.

So what time did you get here?

Like around, like 8:30.

You heard any shots?

KENNY: We had
the music up real loud.

Who lives in that apartment?

Some lady.
She just moved in.

KENNY: Far as I know.

I just got the page.
Excuse me, fellas.

Any idea how it went down?

No. Not yet.

Kearsey get any rounds off?
Yeah, two.

Hopefully one of them's
in the killer.

It's okay we're in here?

Yeah. The warrant's
on the way.

Lennie, there's women's
clothes in the closets

and all the drawers.

(CHUCKLES) I don't suppose
she wears a man's 11.

Uh, would you bag these in
case Cinderella shows up?

Got something here.

Bullet wipe on
the window frame.

Slug's still in there.

So it's straight shot
to the hallway.

Pretty sure it's a 9mm.

There's number two.

Tommie Cannizaro,
the 3-6.

My partner, Detective Hart. Me and
Jake, we went to the academy together.

I'm sorry about your buddy.

Yeah, me too.

We thought maybe you needed a hand
tossing the place or something.

ED: It's actually
a little tight up here.

The bosses show up, see too many
people, we're gonna catch heat.

All right.


No recent gunshot victims
at the local hospital.

But Kearsey's
partner's downstairs.

We got notification on a robbery
we worked about a year ago.

The A.D.A. wanted one of us up on
the stand first thing this morning.

I lost the coin toss.

So your partner didn't
go to court?

No, he was gonna run down the D.A.'s next
witness, uh, a guy named Albert Rosa,

bring him to One Hogan.

This Rosa, he lived here?

No. Other side of town.
East 122nd.

So what was your partner doing over here on St.
Nicholas Avenue?

I wish I knew. He should have been Uptown.
His wife know?

I'm on my way up to their house.
Do you mind joining me?

That's a good idea.

Jake calls tails,
that's me on that gurney.

The apartment's rented to a Selina Watts.
Moved in about two months ago.

VAN BUREN: That name register
with your robbery case?

No. I never
heard of her.

Nobody we canvassed in the
building knew much about her.

Anybody notice a boyfriend?

No, and apparently Watts
wasn't into small talk.

She kept regular hours. Probably a nine-to-fiver.
Nobody knew where.

Well, find out how Kearsey got to
her door from East 122nd Street.

Come on.

The detective was here
first thing this morning.

Buzzed me, asked me
where Mr. Rosa was.

What'd you tell him?

That Mr. Rosa left Monday night with an
overnight bag. Hadn't seen him since.

He say when he was coming back?

Nope. Just asked me
to hold his mail.

Oh, here's the D.A.'s
trial subpoena.

Oh, looks like he was
shirking his civic duty.

Did Mr. Rosa mention
a robbery case?

Uh. No. No.

Did you tell the
detective where he'd be?

Well, I told him
where he worked.

Um, Ajax Transmissions.

Yeah. The detective was here a few hours ago.
What happened, you lost him?

Did he ask you
about Albert Rosa?

And I told him Albert called yesterday,
said he needed a few personal days.

Did the detective talk
to anybody else here?

Hey, Louie, that detective was
here ask you about Albert?

What did you tell him?

Nothin'. I mean,
I told him where he was.

BRISCOE: And where was that?

At his cousin's place. I'm supposed to
bring his check over there tomorrow.

It's 35 St. Nicholas Avenue.

Did you give Detective Kearsey
the cousin's name?

No, but Albert
wrote it down for me.

Selina Watts?

Maria Santiago.
35 St. Nicholas Place.

You ever done this before?

Yeah, twice.

Two times too many.

Ronnie, what are
you doing up here?


Oh, my God.


Where's Jake?

Annie. Oh, Ronnie, just tell me.

I'm sorry.
Oh, God!

Your husband was shot this morning
in the line of duty, Mrs. Kearsey.

I should have been
been there for him.

Is there anyone
we can call for you?

(SOBBING) I don't know.

I'm gonna stay here.
Call me if anything breaks.

This idiot gave Kearsey the wrong
address, he winds up getting killed.

We're ruling out ambush?

Aw, the kid gave himself up way too easy.
I gotta figure wrong time, wrong place.

What do we have on the woman
who rents the apartment?

We couldn't locate
her landlord,

so she's either at work
someplace, or she took off.

Get Byrne to run her name with BCI.
How about our size 11?

Well, Latent's got
a stack of prints to read.

Well, tell them to read faster.

Thanks. The guys at the 3-6 are
about to collar our shooter.

CANNIZARO: One of my snitches puts him in
the backroom in the bar around the corner.

You got a name?

Yeah, Junior. 18-year-old black
male, 5'8", wears a goatee.

Where'd your snitch
get this information?

He knows a surgical nurse. Dressed a
minor bullet wound in his apartment

he says belongs to the shooter.

Who called the local news?

They have scanners.

You didn't put it
on division radio?

Hey, I'm sorry. I have more
important things to worry about.

Like are we gonna
lose this guy or not.

Now you wanna stand here and have
this conversation or go grab him up?

CANNIZARO: Okay, everybody up!
Everybody, hands on the bar! Up!

What's going on here?
Hands on the bar.

Come on, get 'em up!

Come on, pops, move it.

Hey, hey, hey. There's no need.
There's no need.

Where's Junior? There's
nobody named Junior here.

Who's in the back room?

There's nothing up there
but some boxes.

You lying to us, I'm gonna
kick your black ass!

Take the door.

It's clear.

It's a storage closet.

Yo, you put your hands on an old man
like that again, black or white,

you and me are gonna
have a problem.

Oh, that's funny. 'Cause I was gonna say to
you, if you ever interfere with me again,

in the middle of an operation,
we're gonna have a big problem.

And I'm gonna solve it.
Do it now.

Oh, aren't you a big shot!

What, are you playing Al Sharpton
in front of the "brothers"?

Hey, man, I'll take you
anytime, anywhere.

Oh, like we don't know who'll wind
up all jammed up out of that.

It's certainly not the brother.

You say brother like that one
more time, I swear to God,

I'm a stomp
your ass into the pavement.

Whose side is your
partner on, Lennie?

Same side I'm on, all right?

Is our perp in there?

Any problems?

No, we're fine.

You can read it in my report.

What am I supposed
to know here?

Well, Officer Cannizaro could have used
a little more discretion in the bar.

You two back to your precinct.
We've got work to do.

Word is you have a suspect?

We thought we did.

So now, I have to go back to the
mayor and tell him you don't?


Your people know the importance
of keeping City Hall appraised.

They do?

Sir, we just found out
it was a false alarm.

Otherwise, we would have
saved you the trip.

Uh, any leads on the
woman in the apartment?

We're making progress.

Joe, I have to get back. I'll tell the
mayor the investigation's proceeding.

Gimme something soon, Anita.

Fallout from the bar and grill?

What do you have?

Byrne pulled a sheet on the woman in 3-D.
Selina Watts, 29 years old,

formerly of Brooklyn. We got a car in the
7-4, en route to her last known address.

Priors? One recent arrest for fraud.
Still pending.

All right, find
the A.D.A. on her case.

We arrested Selina Watts
about three weeks ago.

She's an administrator at
the Riverside Action Project.

It's an eviction prevention
program up in Harlem.

She dipping into the till?

No, we found some irregularities
in their intake process.


Tenants enrolled in the
program that aren't eligible.

Hmm, that doesn't
sound to serious.

Well, we charged Watts hoping
she'd flip on the higher-ups.

The place is run by an activist named Lateef Miller.
Used to be Bobby Miller.

The former Black Panther?

One and the same.

Yeah, he and his pals robbed some
banks upstate, back in the '60s.

They also ran a free breakfast
program up in Harlem.

So, how long's Robin Hood been running
this Riverside Action Project?

The board of directors hired
him about five years ago.

He's been successful in getting
some pretty big grants.

He turned the project into a
real force in the neighborhood.

You got anything on Miller?

No. Watts isn't cooperating. Her lawyer
insists they're not doing anything illegal.

I'm sure she's told him
he's under investigation.

Watts is still working
for him at Riverside.

Selina Watts?

Can I help you?

I'm Detective Green.
This is Detective Briscoe.

We just need to ask you
a couple of questions.

First off, where were you
today at 9:15?


There was a detective shot in
your building this morning.

I don't know anything
about that.

What time did you
leave for work?

What, am I a suspect?

It's just a simple
question, Miss Watts.

And I have a simple answer. I don't
have to account for my whereabouts

to you or anybody else.

What can you tell us
about Lateef Miller?

Not a damn thing.

ED: He is your boss,
isn't he?

Right. He's my boss.

Well, where is he now?

No idea.

Somebody at your apartment was
involved in that shooting.

How do you know that?

ED: There was fresh
bullet holes inside.

You went inside my apartment? Who
gave you the right to do that?

I don't think you're seeing
the big picture here.

We're gonna have to ask you
to come with us, Miss Watts.

Well, you can forget about it. 'Cause
I'm not going anywhere with you.

We're gonna have to
place you under arrest.

For what?

Criminal possession
of a handgun.

I don't have a handgun.

You had one at your apartment.


Who's size 11's were
in your living room?

That is none of your business.

There was a dead cop
outside your door.

I don't know anything
about that.

The shots came from
inside your apartment.

I don't know anything about that either.
Including, I don't know it's true.

Did Lateef Miller spend
the night with you?

That for sure is
none of your business.

Look, if you're not gonna
help us out here, Miss Watts,

we have three fraud counts pending
we could use against you.

Not to mention, accessory
after the fact to murder.

I've got nothing to do
with that.

Look, all you have to do to walk out
of here is tell us about Lateef.

Then I guess I ain't gonna
be walking out of here,

'cause I don't know what
you're talkin' about.

STRAUS: So you have
an unexplained shooting

and your only suspect just
happens to be Lateef Miller?

Latent lifted four of his prints
from inside the apartment.

So, how do we know he wasn't there
last Sunday for tea and crumpets?

If you're jumping to conclusions
because Miller was a Panther...

He was under investigation
by the D.A.'s Frauds Bureau.

So he shoots a cop?

Miller's dropped off the radar
and Watts is covering for him.

It's just too big
of a coincidence.

You'd better be right. Race relations
in this city what they are,

the Department can't afford
another black eye.

They're fully aware of that.


So do we pick him up or not?

Yeah, pick him up.

And make sure Miller's in one
piece when you bring him in.

Last known for Lateef Miller,
2017 Amsterdam.

So what are we waiting for?

A warrant. We got cars on his
building and the R.A.P. office.

Green and I will take ESU into his apartment
as soon as the paperwork gets here.

What do you have on the gun?

Ballistics makes the murder weapon a Glock 9mm.
It's their new "compensated" model.

You've all see it. It has vents
on the slide to reduce recoil.

All right, people, keep working
your eyes and ears on the street

and be ready to move
as soon as we see

what turns up in Miller's
apartment, all right?

Police. Freeze!

BOY: What are you doing? What are you...
What are you doing?

Up against the wall.

It's clear.

All right, he's a kid. We're
looking for Lateef Miller.

You just can't
break down our door.

We got
a no-knock warrant.

Can I see it?

BRISCOE: Do you know
Lateef Miller?

Lateef Miller's our father.

"Murder in the First Degree"?

He didn't kill anybody.

Do you know where your father
was the night before last?

Here. We don't have to
answer any questions.

ED: You're right.
You don't.

Our father warned us about
people like you.

Uh, I'll take that back
if you're done.

Or I'll wind up like my cousin?

What happened to your cousin?

He got shot by a cop like you.

Anything turn up
at Miller's apartment?

Nope. Nothing but
his two scared kids.

The place was clean.

Will you follow up at
the R.A.P. office?

We made visits to the staff. No Lateef Miller.
No love from the staff or the community.

Well, no one likes
cops at their door.

That's not all they don't like.

Lateef's like a living legend.
You know what that makes me?

Oh, I know you're not
buying into that.

What do you have?

I pulled some of
Miller's old cases.

I figured maybe he's hooked up with
one of his old radical friends.

Uh, he did a few robberies with
a guy named Rolando August.

Who has a real estate
business in the Bronx.

Ex-Panther makes good.

I haven't seen Lateef
in 10 years.

You did time together.

That's right. But I haven't
seen him in 10 years.

A vacant apartment
in one of your buildings

is a great place
to stash an old comrade.

I wouldn't do that.

Would you make
an emergency loan?

No, I wouldn't.

And I resent the accusatory
tone in your voice.

Well, you kinda made that bed
30 years ago, Mr. August.

People change, Detective Green.

I do pretty well here
for an ex-con.

I wouldn't risk it all
for Lateef Miller.

I'm sure you'll understand we
can't just take your word for it.

Here are my listings. You
want to bust down 200 doors,

be my guest.

We finally got
the IUDs for Watts.

Miller checked his answering
service from her phone

a half an hour
before Kearsey was shot.

Great, now all we gotta do
is find the guy.

Well, if we can't find Miller, maybe
we can find the murder weapon.

I'm sorry, I'm late for my daily
spanking at One Police Plaza.

This doesn't make much sense.

Maybe he thought Kearsey was
there to take him back to jail.

You know. I know this guy
from Washington Park.

I heard of this Lateef
Miller. What did he do?

You know about the cop
on St. Nicholas?

Big news, man.

What you got for me?

What you got for me?

Same parole violation that's been
hanging over your head for three years.

I'm make some inquiries.

He might be trying to sell off
a state-of-the-art Glock 9mm.

The C model. The one with
flash holes on the slide.

You heard about one
on the market?

Tough piece to turn over.

Burner like that goes
for 1,500, 1,800.

Who do you know that handles that
kind of high-end merchandise?

I can think of
two or three guys.

MAN: Who's there? Lottery
winner's payment unit.

Also know as
the Police Department.

What's this? ED: Step
into the hallway, Natron.

You buy a gun
from Lateef Miller?

I didn't buy no gun.

You know what, we're gonna wait
till they get here with a warrant.

Then we're gonna go in
and tear your place apart.

You got anything in there
you'd rather we didn't find?

What I gotta do?

ED: Where's Lateef?
I don't know.

BRISCOE: Call for
the warrant.

Look, Lateef's a Muslim, right?

All Muslims Friday afternoons
are at jum'ah.

What's jum'ah?

It's prayer.

At the mosque.

Which mosque?

135th Street.

BRISCOE: Our source said
Miller's been taking his meals

at the mosque the past two
days, sleeping there.

Any muscle in there?

He doesn't think so.
So, we wait for ESU?

No, that'll bring out
the whole neighborhood.

You know what?
I'm going in.

What, you gonna go in the back?

No. I'm gonna
come out the back.

VAN BUREN: You sure you
want to do it this way?

You want a riot on your hands?



Are you Muslim?

No, I'm a cop.

I need to talk
to Lateef Miller.

Now you know you don't
belong here, brother.

Look, man, I know, but it's
either me or an ESU team

with assault rifles and tear gas.
We don't need that.

They're inside making salat.

I won't interrupt. I swear.


Mr. Miller,

please don't make us disrespect
your house of worship.

You already have.

I need you to come with me.

I wanna go out the front.

The back is better.

So you can shoot me?

If they shoot you, their
gonna have to shoot me, too.

I'll take it from here.

There's gonna be
press at the house.

You okay with doing
the walk-out?

Lennie could go alone.

No, I'll do it.

All right.

"People v. Lateef Miller.
Murder in the First Degree."



If I hear another word from the gallery,
I'm going to clear the courtroom.


How does the defendant plead?

My client has a statement,
Your Honor.

Given that I'm here
as a political prisoner...

MAN: Tell 'em, brother.
...the Geneva Convention

doesn't afford this court


That's enough.

Mr. Miller, I'm entering
a plea of "not guilty."

CARMICHAEL: People request
remand, Your Honor.

Mr. Miller killed
a police officer

and then fled the scene
in order to avoid capture.

He was praying in a mosque, Your Honor.
He's a pillar of his community.

The People are considering
the death penalty.



No bail. Defendant is remanded.
Move on to motion.

I had to duck out the back exit on
Baxter Street to avoid the mob.

If you think the arraignment was
a circus, wait for the trial.

Who's representing him?

CARMICHAEL: Leon Chiles.

How's our case?

We've had better.

The shot that killed Kearsey came
from Miller's girlfriend's apartment.

We can put Miller inside.

Any witnesses, a gun?

Neither one.

Any chance for a deal?

You make a deal for manslaughter, you
break faith with every cop in the city.

Yeah, but was it manslaughter?

No, I don't believe it was.

Still, you prosecute for homicide,
we could get accused of racism.

In other words we can't win.

JACK: Right.

Okay, well, let's call it for what it is.
Let's prosecute for homicide.

A woman named
Selina Watts lives in 3-D.

Our Latent Print Unit lifted
four fingerprints

belonging to Lateef Miller
from her apartment,

and we also found a pair of
shoes his size in her hallway.

Was there anything that connected
Mr. Miller to Ms. Watts' apartment

on the morning of the incident?

ED: When we subpoenaed Watts' telephone
record, there was a phone call

from her apartment to the
defendant's answering service

37 minutes before
the 9-1-1 call.

Could anybody do this?

They would have to have Mr. Miller's
private pin code, 4-2-4-4-8.

4124148 is Mr. Miller's
birthday isn't it?

I believe it is, yes.

It's fairly common, is it not, to use
one's birthday for one's pin code?

It may be, I don't really know.

But wouldn't anyone who
knew Mr. Miller's birthday

have a good chance
of accessing his messages?

ED: Assuming they also
had his phone number.

And I take it the police
department has access

to both of those
pieces of information.


When your lab ran all the prints
found in Selina Watts' apartment,

how many other individuals
were there beside Mr. Miller?

I believe there were 14.


But only one belonging to a former
Black Panther, right, Detective?


Oh, um, how many other individuals
were there who had size 11 feet?

We didn't run their shoe sizes.


I was Jake Kearsey's
partner for 18 months.

I've known him and his
family for seven years.

JACK: Which family members
in particular?

His wife, Anne, and his
children, Julie and Brian.

On the day Detective Kearsey
was killed what happened?

Oh, while Jake was running down a witness,
somebody gave him the wrong address.

JACK: Did the case you and
Detective Kearsey were working on

have anything to do
with Lateef Miller?

Nothing whatsoever.

In the time that
you worked with him,

did Detective Kearsey ever mention
Lateef Miller in particular

or the Black Panther Party
in general?

No, he did not.

Your, uh, partner didn't live
in New York City, did he?

No, he lived up
in Rockland County.

He was a member
of the Emerald Society?


I'm laying the foundation to establish an
alternate reason for Detective Kearsey's visit.


Yeah, the Emerald Society.

Which is a secret, all-white clique
within the police department?

It's a social club for Irish cops.
A fraternal organization.

But the only brothers this
fraternal organization are white.


JUDGE: Move along,
Mr. Chiles.

Isn't it a fact
that Detective Kearsey

belonged to a motorcycle gang
called the White Knights?


It's a group of overweight, middle-aged
guys who like to ride bikes on Sundays.

But did not the son of one
of the members of this gang

get arrested for scrawling "KKK"
on the wall of his high school?

Move to strike.

The question is stricken.

Did Detective Kearsey have six excessive
force complaints filed against him at CCRB,

five by African-Americans?

The ones I know about
were dismissed.

What about the one
that was sustained

where he put a young black
man in a choke hold

that sent him to the hospital?

That guy was a PCP freak
resisting arrest.

How many white PCP freaks did your
partner overpower during his career?

Nothing more.

Mr. McCoy, can't you do
something about that?

The judge is giving him
some leeway, Mrs. Kearsey.

Leeway? He's making him
look like Jake had it coming.

Attacking the victim will
probably backfire.

Well, what if it doesn't?

From where we sit, your case
isn't going in all that great.

These cheap shots won't
make any difference.

Well, they make
a difference to me.

My husband is not
on trial here.

JACK: I now it's difficult,
Mrs. Kearsey.

You'll have to excuse us.
We have a witness to prep.

I didn't come this way
to let this guy go.

What are you thinking?

Well, nobody saw Lateef between
the crime scene and the mosque?

Yeah, but we struck out with the
cab drivers and the bus companies.

Maybe we were looking
for the wrong address.

You're Lateef Miller, you just gunned
down a cop, who do you go see?

A lawyer.

I can't find this thing.

Maybe tomorrow, guys,
it's been a crazy day here.

Hey, don't tell us about crazy.

We've been running around looking at
trip sheets for the last eight hours.

Wait a minute I think I got it.

Let me see that.

Lennie, look at this.

Morning of the shooting,
drop off, 1840 Broadway.

It's Leon Chiles' law office.

the driver's Jean Marchier.

This is my trip sheet. But I don't
remember every fare from that day.

Well, how come
you filed it a week late?

I share my car with two other drivers.
I don't go into the office that much.

Wait, hold up. Hold up. Is this the guy you
picked up in front of 33 St. Nicholas?

Yes. Yes, it is.

I remember he came out of the
building and he hailed me.

I remember he was
a little bit upset.

So after your officers broke
down Selina Watts' door,

they were in the apartment
alone, without supervision?

I was on the way.

Which gave them the opportunity
to tamper with the crime scene.

Did it not?

JUDGE: Approach.

He needs a good faith basis to
pose these kinds of questions.

I've given you some latitude,
Mr. Chiles.

My patience is running thin.


Could I have a moment, Judge?



The People would like to add
a witness to our witness list.

A little late, aren't you?

He saw the defendant exit the scene of
the crime at the time of the murder.

He drove from there
to Mr. Chiles' office.

I'll allow it.

You wanna continue
your cross, Mr. Chiles?

I'll withdraw my objection.

That won't be necessary.

The defendant will be
pleading self-defense.

LEWIN: So now Miller's asserting
a justification defense?

Chiles left his options open.

He didn't lock himself into anything
inconsistent with that defense.

Well, is there any reason to think that
Detective Kearsey was the aggressor?

Well, it's subjective.

If Miller had reason
to believe it,

then he was entitled
to use deadly force.

Do we have any evidence to
refute the self-defense claim?

The ballistics analysis
is equivocal.

Both men were standing
when the shots were fired.

He'll claim
the officer shot first.

I can't see it. Detective Kearsey went
to that apartment looking for a witness.

Yeah, except they've already set the
table by insinuating Kearsey's a racist.

I think this jury might buy it.

Oh, he's hitching his wagon to the
anti-police sentiment in the city.

JACK: And that's just
the beginning.

What evidence are you seeking
to admit, Mr. Chiles?

Evidence of police violence
against African-Americans.

The Abner Louima assault.

The Amadou Diallo murder.

The police in that case
were acquitted.

my client's neighborhood.

The Michael Stewart murder,
Eleanor Bumpurs,

Rodney King in LA, the Fred
Hampton assassination in Oakland.

Three thousand miles away.

And some of these incidents
happened over 30 years ago.

And they all worked to shape
Mr. Miller's distrust of the police.

They are all relevant to
establish his state of mind.

JACK: I have
my own list, Judge.

Statements made by Mr. Miller, inciting
his followers to kill police officers.

A Black Panther newsletter
from July 1969,

in which Mr. Miller is
quoted as saying,

"When the pigs knock on your door,
brothers, it's them or you.

"The only way to stop oppression
in Amerika," spelled with a "K,"

"is with a sawed-off

Colorful language for colorful times.
It never meant to be taken literally.

He can argue that to the jury.

It's an attack
on my client's character.

He put his client's
character in issue.

That's true, Mr. Chiles.

I also plan to
cross-examine Mr. Miller

about improprieties at
the Riverside Action Center.

He was never charged with that.

You two want a free-for-all? Fine.
Let the jury sort it all out.



I first met Lateef Miller back
in August 1967, at City College.

We were recruiters for the Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

How did the two of you get involved
with the Black Panther Party?

The Committee wasn't speaking
to the times by the mid-'60s.

After Martin and Malcolm
were killed,

there was a lot of pent-up
anger on the streets.

More militant brothers like me and
Lateef gravitated toward the Panthers.

What was the Panthers' experience
with the police in those days?

They hated us.
And we hated them.

How did that police hatred
manifest itself?

There was constant, day-to-day
harassment of our people on the streets.

Infiltration of our meetings
by police operatives.

The FBI led a campaign of
disinformation against us.

Several brothers were outright
murdered in so-called police raids.

What impact did
these events have on you?

Well, they left me pretty
cynical about the police.

Even after 30 years?

Not much has changed.

You recruit a bunch of white high
school kids from up in New Paltz

to come down
and keep order in the hood,

that's how you wind up with 41 shots on
some poor black guy coming home from work.

Thank you.

Do the police in
your neighborhood know

you were once with
the Panthers, Mr. August?

Some do.

Any one of them ever
take a shot at you?

They ever single you out

for persecution or harassment
because of your past affiliation?

I know that when a white cop looks
at me, he doesn't see a businessman.

He sees a potential criminal.

The question was whether you were
singled out for your past affiliation?

Not to my knowledge.

Prior to this trial, when was the
last time you spoke to Lateef Miller?

I couldn't give you a
precise figure, Mr. McCoy.

Six months, or a year?
Couldn't tell you.

Didn't you tell
the investigating police

that it had been ten years since you
had spoken or seen Lateef Miller?

It's possible that I did.

Was that because you no
longer wanted to associate

with a person who was
still committed to violence?

I promise you, sir, his fear
of cops is my fear of cops.

And his anger is my anger.

Every time a police siren pulls up behind
me, I still get a feeling in my gut

they're gonna pull over
and mess with me.

Does that mean that you could see yourself
shooting a cop who came to your door?

It means I'm tired
of being messed with.

A week before I was arrested, my 17-year-old
nephew was shot by the police in Newark.

What were the circumstances?

They said he robbed
a woman's jewelry.

And he was
"evading apprehension."

Only they didn't find
any jewelry on him.

So the best we can figure, he ran
because he had a joint in his pocket.

What happened to your nephew?

He's in a wheelchair.

They say he may never
walk again.

Now I'm gonna bring your attention
to the day in question.

Can you tell the jury
what happened?

I slept over at Selina's
that night, on the couch.

I do that sometimes
when we work late.

After our morning prayers, she went to work.
I made some phone calls.

And then there was aloud
banging on the door.

What did you do?

I said, "What is it?"

Did you get a response?

He said, "Open the door."

I said again, I said,
"Who is it?"

And he said,
"Open the door."

What happened next?

Well, I went into the bedroom and I got
a gun that Selina keeps for protection.

Why did you do that?

Well, there was this guy.
He was banging on the door.

He was cursing.
He was abusive.

So then I opened the door.

And he was standing there
with a pistol in his hands.

Did he identify himself?

At that time, yes.

What did you do with your gun?

Well, I had it
by my side, by my leg.

And then he looked at me.

And I could see
he recognized me.

Move to strike. JUDGE: Last
part of the answer is stricken.

When you looked into that detective's
eyes, what did you observe?

I could see a look
come over his face.

I'd seen that look before.

He raised his gun,

and he pointed it at me.

I stepped away.

And I raised my gun
and pointed it at him.

It was reflex.

And then we
both started shooting.

You both started shooting
at the same time?


Then he got hit.

And I went over

and I put my fingers on his
neck to try to feel a pulse.

But he was dead.

God, I panicked.

I knew I couldn't stay there.

Because nobody
would believe me.

Now, Mr. Miller, from the
time that you opened the door

to the time that you started
shooting, how much time had elapsed?

Oh, it was fast.
It was real fast.

It was maybe a second
or two at the most.

Why did you shoot him,
Mr. Miller?

I was defending myself.

It was either him or me.

No further questions.

You were convicted on multiple
counts of armed robbery in 1971?

It was an act
of civil disobedience.

Getting compensation
for centuries of repression.

So you think
what you did was right?

It was justified by the times.

And when you called on your
supporters to murder police officers

in the late '60s,
that was justified?

I've done positive things
in this city for 15 years.

For 15 years,
Mr. McCoy.

You're aware that the District
Attorney is investigating

the Riverside Action
Project for fraud?

There is no fraud. The government
places restrictions on our services.

And sometimes we have to
push the envelope

in order to keep families
in their apartments.

Selina Watts told you the D.A.'s
office was targeting you.


So for all you knew, Detective Kearsey had
come to her apartment on that matter?

But he wasn't from Frauds,
was he, Mr. McCoy?

And he never said he was.

And he never identified
himself as a police officer

while the door was closed?

When the banging started
I was in the bedroom.

Now if he said anything
at all, I didn't hear it.

Oh, and nevertheless,
you chose to answer the door

with an illegal gun
in your hand?

There was a maniac trying
to break down the door.

When you opened the door,
he pointed his gun at you?

Yes. Because he saw
a gun in your hand?


Because he recognized me.

I could see by the way
he looked at me.

A look you say you'd seen before,
Mr. Miller. What was It?

It was hate, Mr. McCoy.

Isn't it a fact, it was fear?

You heard about him.
He was a racist.

Even if he was,

you couldn't have known anything
about that at the time.

I could see it in his eyes.

You were angry
because of your nephew?

Angry that he might have to Yes

spend the rest of his life
in a wheelchair?

How would you feel?

Isn't it a fact that you took out
your anger on Detective Kearsey?

No. I reacted.

You overreacted because he was a police
officer and because he was white.

I had to make a judgment call
in a split second.

You made the same kind of racial assumption
that you charge the police with?

It's my life's experience.

So your own racism justified this killing.
Is that what you're saying?

No, Mr. McCoy.

You're twisting my words.

You're twisting the truth.

Who's truth, Mr. Miller?


Nothing further.

I think you have
a very good picture

of what the world looks
like to Lateef Miller.

A man whose suspicions of the police was
nurtured by the racism that existed,

and still exists
in this country.

A worldview shaped by the
political foment of the '60s,

and then crystallized
by current events,

a never-ending list
of African-Americans

that have been attacked or
murdered by white police officers.

And then personalized
by a family tragedy

that occurred a few days
before the incident.

Lateef Miller believed in
his heart of hearts that

that when he shot
Detective Kearsey,

that he was defending his life.

That makes him
not guilty of all charges.

Now when you go to the jury room,
I ask you not to be swayed

by the sympathy that you will naturally
feel for the victim and his family.

I ask you, and the law requires

that you put yourself in
Lateef Miller's shoes.

If you are Lateef Miller and a
police officer shows up at your door

with hatred in his eyes,
and pointing a gun at you,

what goes through your head?

"Defend myself."

Thank you.

Jake Kearsey and Lateef Miller didn't
go out on the morning in question

to have a gun battle.

One thing we'll never
know for sure

is what set off the explosion
that left Detective Kearsey dead.

The defendant has plausible explanations
for everything that happened,

but you also have the luxury of placing
those explanations in context.

Lateef Miller promoted
cop-killing 30 years ago.

He admitted
dishonesty in his job

and his claim of self-defense
is belied by his own actions.

He ran from the crime scene,
hid from the police.

When he was captured
he proclaimed his innocence.

And now that he's
facing the death penalty

it's not
"I didn't kill him."

It's "I had to kill him."

So, ask yourselves,

if Detective Kearsey were here
to give his side of the story,

would it look anything like
Lateef Miller's?

The defense urges you to see the
world through Lateef Miller's eyes.

Do that, ladies and gentlemen,

if you wanna contaminate the truth with
Mr. Miller's anger and racial mistrust.

Acquit Mr. Miller,

if you think it fit to
allow him to avoid

the moral consequences
of his actions

by portraying himself
as the victim.

The victim here is
Detective Kearsey,

who innocently went to the wrong
apartment looking for a witness

and wound up dead.

I don't doubt that Mr. Miller has
encountered racism in his life,

but it's not a free pass
to commit murder.

Has the jury reached
a verdict, Mr. Foreman?

JURY FOREMAN: Yes we have,
Your Honor.

On the count of Murder in the
First Degree, how do you find?

We find the defendant
not guilty.


You're missing
the Lateef Miller Show.

Which channel?

Two, four, five, seven, nine.

Glad I have cable.

Don't beat yourself up too
badly over this one, Jack.

A guy shoots a New York City police
officer in the line of duty,

and I can't convict him.

Enough of the jury identified
with his fear of cops.

Used to be fear of cops didn't
justify shooting them.

Used to be a lot of things.