Law & Order (1990–2010): Season 3, Episode 7 - Self Defense - full transcript

A Greek immigrant jewelry store owner kills two robbers and claims self defense. However, it is soon questioned whether his actions went beyond self defense and crossed into revenge and murder.

(narrator) 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.

Put me down for
$10 on the Expos.

(male voice) Save some
for groceries, big shot.

I know, I know, Allie's
been on my case.

The baby's due in three weeks.

(male voice) Well, tell her
you're investin' in his future.

Yeah, you tell her.

Hey, I got me a bad Ford.

(male voice) Yeah?
I got a Mercedes.

Watch out for that grille, man.

(male voice) Too late, man.

I already took out a headlight.

This piece of crap,

bust out a headlight,
it's an improvement.

Holy jeez.

[sirens wailing]

I already told him what.

Pop! Pop! Pop! I don't
know how many times.

Like a car.

What time was that?

9:00 last night.

Did you happen to
look out your window?

In this neighborhood, you
don't wanna look too much.

Thank you, Mrs. Pinsker.
The officer'll see you home.

Oh, don't bother. It
would just attract attention.

[dog yelping]

Tapped twice in the lower back.

Eyes cloudy, rigor's
set in. Say, 10 hours.

Garland Booker, 21 years old.

323 West 140th. $10.

Plastic from Alexander's.
Maybe his balance was overdue.

Creditors are jumpy these days.

Two entry wounds in the back.

I doubt the shooter
was under the car.

Okay, so Mr. Booker got
shot somewhere out here,

climbed into his
car to bleed to death.

Keys were on the floor.
Maybe he tried to start the car.

What, he was gonna drive
himself to the hospital?

Sergeant, looks like
somebody sprung a leak.

[people chattering]

[man murmuring]

(Logan) Oh, yeah.
A double-header.

(cop) Big deal with a big gun.

Looks like he crawled
in here and died.

Cecil Booker, 27.

Somebody's pruning
the family tree.

[phone ringing] These
guys were brothers?

Oh, yeah, chalk
one up for genetics.

Cecil was in for robbery,

possession with
intent, two assaults.

Garland, grand theft auto,
burglary, assault, possession.

Mom must be very proud.

The birth canal's not the
only thing they shared.

They were both killed by a .38.

Uh, and Cecil's .45?

Minus two bullets.

Oh, great. So we had a firefight

right in the middle of Dodge,

and nobody saw anything.

Businesses were still closed.

We're gonna hit the
neighborhood this afternoon.

Well, that'd be helpful.

While you're at it,
maybe you could find out

what these two uptown boys

were doing downtown
on Thursday night.

28th and Lex, it's a hot corner.

What do you think,
a drug buy gone bad?

Cecil had a crack
pipe in his pocket.

They both had priors.

What about the car?

It's registered to
a Laticia Ramis.

Girlfriend? Wife?

Garland didn't do no drugs.

He had himself a real
job. He was a courier.

(Logan) What about this stuff?

Did it fall off his
delivery truck?

You always blame us
first when there's trouble.

My Garland got
killed. You don't care.

We care about why
he was downtown

last night with his brother.

Cecil owed him money.

He said if Garland goes
with him, he'd pay him back.

Pay him back how?

Cecil just said he knew a place

where he could get
all the jack he needed.

You didn't ask
him for particulars?

How about what you suspected?

I don't know. Cecil
always talked big.

He said he had a connection,
this man he did time with.

A name, Laticia?

Marvin. Marvin Welles.

Garland didn't know
what it was about,

or else he would've told me.

Cecil owed everybody.
He owed me.

You a savings and loan?

You know what kind
of business I'm in.

You're damn right. I'm
just waitin' for an excuse

to toss this apartment.

Cleanin' lady's
already been here.

I'm spic and span.


Was he your partner?

Not for a long time.

Profits had a way
of goin' up in smoke

when he was around.

[woman shouting]

Look, everybody knows
Cecil was no kind of player.

Only buyin' he did
was for his own head.

How much was he into you for?

Enough that it
wouldn't pay to kill him.

Marvin, do you have a gun?

I'm a felon, man. On parole.

If I was gonna use a piece,
I'd make it a throw-away.

Of course, you're
welcome to get a warrant.

Maybe we will, Marvin.


(Cerreta) Mr. Rhee, what
time did you close last night?

8:00, I'm gone.

8:00? And you didn't see

the blue Ford parked
right out in front here?

No. These guys, they're dead?

(Logan) As doornails.


They're bad dudes.

You go around the corner,

you could see them
selling dope all day.

These two?

These guys, other
guys. They're all bad.

No, no, not other
guys, these guys.

You ever seen them before?

Sure, they come
in here all the time

to get their suits pressed.

Only one reason people
like that come in here:

to take my money.

You've had problems?

No problem. Just a solution.

(Costas) What, do you
think I, uh, sit around,

watch people walk by
on the street all day?

Your sign says
you're open till 9:00.

Yeah, you got a big
net, you catch more fish.

How were they bitin' last night?

Not good. I close at 8:00.

Uh, it's a tough street. I... I
make a big investment here.

You mean like the fresh paint?

Yeah, new paint,
new sign, new alarm.

The insurance company,

every time somebody
gets robbed on the street,

they... they double us.

I do everything they say, but,
uh, still they... they raise me.

I work hard to be a
success, you know.

Not like these bums. Excuse me.

[door opening]


Another "no see, no hear."

The neighborhood watch
must have skipped this block.

There's a lot of merchandise
here worth stealing.

Cecil was talkin' about
payin' back his debts.

His sheet included
armed robbery.

Mr. Costas?

(Cerreta) Do you own a gun?

What, are you gonna make
us call the License Division?

Yeah, okay, I got a gun.

I also got a right to bear
arms. Second Amendment.

What kind of gun?


The gun and the permit, please.

[sirens wailing]

[door opening]

Christine. That's
your wife, huh?

Yeah. No, uh, green card
until three months ago.

No green card, no permit.

So she obliged?

Yes, she, uh, works
in the store also.

She keeps the books.

Everybody in this
neighborhood has a gun.

We need for protection.

We'd like your gun.

Oh, yeah, right.

What am I going
to do with no gun?

Call 911. That's your receipt.

Thank you.

These babies didn't come
from your Mr. Costas' gun.

It's the same caliber,

but the slugs are right-fives
and the gun's a right-six.

Sorry, fellows.

If you were scared
of bein' robbed,

would you keep your gun
squirreled away in the back?

Unless I wanted
early retirement, no.

Me, neither.

Helen, what's the
number for Permits?

Speed-dial, three.

What's his wife's name again?

No. No. We sold that other gun.

Mr. Costas, you are
testing our faith in humanity.

Okay, am I under arrest?

I know my rights,
from citizens' class.

You're not under arrest, okay?

Now, the paint job,
when'd you do it?

Last weekend.

No. It smells a little
fresher than that.

When we start
diggin' under this paint,

what are we going
to find? Bullets?

[speaking in Greek]

All right. All right.

They had guns.

I think we'd all be more
comfortable at the station.

Okay, fine. I want to
cooperate. Let's go.

This one, he comes
in first, about 8:30.

He tries on Piaget,
Ebel, Cartier.

He says to me, "Nice
watch, little man."

I knew he was going to take it.

So he tried to steal it?

No, he just left.

About 9:00, he comes
back with this one.

You let them in?

They were in the cage.

The big one, he
takes out his gun.

What choice? I buzzed them in.

Did you think about
runnin' in the back?

What, I am Superman?

These sons of a
bitches had a gun.

I should just let them kill me?

No one is suggesting that,
Mr. Costas. Please go on.

So, you buzzed them in.

My gun, I... I keep
it by the button.

So, you let them in, then
you went for your gun?

I don't want to shoot anybody,
but they were in my store.

My store. I have a
right to self-defense.

Can you tell us exactly
what you did then?

They shoot at me, I shoot back.

I killed them.

How'd the bodies get outside?

They ran out there.
They died there.

Mr. Costas, why didn't you
call the police right away?

I know. I know it was wrong.
But you don't understand.

Goetz, I remember Goetz.

Big hero, then
you put him in jail.

The circumstances
were different.

That's what you say.

But Immigration,
what will they say?

I am not a citizen.

I got the card, I
go to the classes,

but till I swear in front
of the flag, it's nothing.


For six years, I
work to get here.

Now I lose everything because
these bastards want to rob me?

Granted, the cover-up
doesn't work in his favor,

but in his shoes, what does
a guy off the boat know?

Enough to blow smoke in
our face for a day-and-a-half.

Well, what about his
story? Does it walk and talk?

With a limp and an accent.
But after what he's been through,

you can expect this guy to
be a little fuzzy on the details.

Okay, work the store. Maybe
the "I's" will dot themselves.

[voices on wireless]

Two .45s from Cecil.

Three .38s from Costas.

Not to mention the three
we dug out of the Bookers.

One of these must be the
one that went through Garland.

That makes a total of six.

Which means Costas
emptied his gun.

Now, he could have retreated
and ducked behind the counter.

Even Carl Lewis
can't outrun a bullet.

So, he chooses to
step to the buzzer,

which is right
next to his gun...

Another life choice.

He figures he's
too young to die.

He does what he's
told. Lets them in.


So, he's gonna wait
till they get in the store

and then shoot 'em?

I doubt if he was
thinking it through.

I don't think he had to.

[cage door closing]

He said he buzzed them in,

shootin' starts, they run out.

What did he do, buzz them out?

Maybe one of 'em held it open.

That's not what he told us.

He never let them in, Phil.

He went right for his
gun. Fish in a barrel.

They were stuck
in the damn cage.

(clerk) "Docket number 774-124.

People versus George R. Costas."

The charges are two counts
of murder in the second degree.

Give us a plea, Mr. Costas.

Not guilty, Judge.

Your Honor, in
view of the severity

of the crimes charged,

the State asks for bail in
the amount of $750,000.

That's fine.
Let's skip the trial

and go right to the sentencing.

Mr. Costas controls an inventory

of well over $1 million.

That's retail, Your Honor,
most of it on consignment.

The actual cash value
of my client's assets...

Please, Mr. Drakos, this is
not Benny's Bargain House.

Claims justifiable homicide.

Mr. Robinette, what's the
outlook on pleading this out?

The People are still
reviewing the evidence.

We aren't prepared
to make an offer yet.

What is there to review?

Your case is like a bad haircut.

Before you waste
the taxpayers' money,

try to work something
out with Mr. Drakos.

Your Honor...

Bail is set at $100,000. Next.

It doesn't matter how
we slice and dice him.

The jury won't buy
him as a vigilante.

They'll buy him as a killer

once they know he lied
to the police at every pass.

Last time he had
his face in the papers,

gang-bangers tried to kill him.

The jury might conclude,

covering up his involvement
this time wasn't unreasonable.

We can point out
it's not unreasonable

as a function of guilt, either.

A jury'll expect
more than rhetoric.

Grand jury found it
convincing enough.

Yeah, 13 out of 23 isn't
exactly a ringing endorsement.

Are we gonna step on the
bodies and keep walking?

This is the second and
third person he's killed.

Self-defense doesn't
allow you to kill somebody.

Only to keep yourself
from being killed.

It also doesn't leave room
for prosecutorial suicide.

[phone ringing]

What if Cerreta's right?

Garland was about to
attack Costas with a crowbar?

Try it the other
way around, Paul.

Maybe Garland was
acting in self-defense.


Garland and his brother
were the initial aggressors.

No way he could
claim self-defense.

He could the minute he withdrew

from the first encounter.

After that, he was at the car.

And it's inconceivable that
Costas could mistake the fact

that Garland was
trying to get away.

Now, I don't mind
people getting accolades

for legitimate self-defense,

but an executioner?
Someone who kills two people,

and then complains
about his insurance rates?

For people like him,

maybe that's the cost of
doing business these days.

He says he did everything
to lower his insurance rates.

My homeowner's
policy gives discounts

for having security devices.

It says here all he had
was a security cage.

If he was so concerned
about his safety,

why didn't he have the works?

He says he did.

Security device
covers a lot of ground.

Could be a camera,
could be a dog,

could even be a deadbolt.

For a $200 discount?

Is that what his
policy says he got?

Each quarter,
starting last year.

There he is. Costas,
George. 1006 28th.

Put in a security
cage two years ago.

Last November, he got a
Tracon Five surveillance system.

One camera, one 48-hour
continuous tape machine.

Our investigators didn't
find evidence of a camera.

Do you have a proof of purchase?

Installed by Fortas
Electronics, Fort Lee,

New Jersey, November 15.

Help yourself to the copier.


How the hell do I know
if he had a camera?

I've been to his store twice.

What do I have, a
photographic brain?

Maybe this'll jog your memory.

According to this, he
bought the camera from you.

George is family. He
wanted to save a few bucks.

He needed a piece of paper,
I gave it to him. So what?

The "what" is
insurance fraud, sir.

A D felony.

If you can prove
it, slap his wrist.

What the hell is this?

A bill of indictment.
Accomplice to murder two.

I'm allowed to present
my side to the grand jury.

I haven't filed yet.

We can walk down
to the grand jury room.

If I find your prints on
that camera, Mr. Fortas,

that's what you'll be facing.


All right.

I sold him the camera,
like the paper says.

Was it working the
night of the robbery?

Yeah, I guess so.

He called me right after.

Asked me if he
should get rid of it.

Of what?

The tape.

I told him, "George,

take the freaking camera
down and talk to a lawyer."

He got hysterical.

He'd already seen his
wife nearly get killed.

Those people, they
drove him to this.

Which people are those?

Poor stiff.

He should have stayed in Crete.

Unless you produce
the tape, Mr. Costas,

you've bought yourself
a ferry ride to Riker's.

Cancel the reservation, Ben.

My client's made no
admission there ever was a tape.

He already has. To
his brother-in-law.

And if you destroyed it,

that's tampering with evidence.

That's small potatoes, but it
could get your bail revoked.

I have the tape.

I advised against destroying it.

We don't need to tamper
with evidence to make the case.

Don't expect a pat on the back.

I'll send a messenger
over to pick it up.

(Logan) So much for
the ticker-tape parade.

Well, I'll tell ya', If
I were on the jury,

I'm not sure which
side I'd come down on.

I think it's self-evident.

He reloads and he goes outside
to finish off Garland Booker.

I don't see that on there.

He goes outside.
That's as far as it goes.

(Stone) We can infer what
happened outside from the evidence.

An ME's report
and slim ballistics?

You'd never buy that
as evidence from us.

(Stone) Oh, not without the
statements Costas made to you.

(Cerreta) What statements?

He never said anything about
shooting anybody outside.

He covered up. He lied.

Lies show
consciousness of guilt.

The jury might never hear it.

Motion to suppress.

Covers the statements
he made to the police

and all evidence
derived therefrom.

When you first interviewed
Costas at the station,

did you Mirandize him?

No. He wasn't in custody.

He says he was.

He was asked to
come to the precinct.

He was placed in a
coercive environment.

He was questioned by the police

for one-and-a-half hours.

The court of appeals has
a word for that. "Custody."

And custody means Miranda.

Mr. Costas was not under arrest.

He was free to
leave at any time.

Your Honor, the test is
what any reasonable person

in my client's position
would have thought.

A person who is unfamiliar
with the laws of this country.

A person who was already
questioned by the police.

A person who voluntarily
accompanied the officers

to the station house,

a person who was not in custody,

and not entitled to
Miranda warnings.

That might satisfy the
Supreme Court, Mr. Stone,

but the state of New York
takes a more generous view

of the protections of
counsel awarded a defendant.

I'm going to grant your
motion, Mr. Drakos.

The statements Mr. Costas
made to the police are suppressed.

Your Honor, the tape
was discovered as a result

of my client's
statements to the police.

pre-custodial statements

made before the police had
reason to suspect Mr. Costas.

They even have signed
affidavits to that effect.

I've read them. I agree.

The statements
go, the rest stays.

Well, so much for
the thousand words.

Better hope the
picture speaks for itself.

Look, the bottom line is,

the Bookers never
got out of the cage.

Our Mr. Costas jumped the gun.

Miss manners never said

you have to give the
bad guys a head start.

Not to mention a couple
of slugs behind the counter

makes a good
argument for self-defense.

What does Costas say?

He denies they
were still in the cage

when the shooting started.

The more he tells us,
the longer his nose gets.

Haitians aren't the only
ones afraid of the INS.

His concern over his
citizenship could be genuine.

I'll start presentations
to the grand jury,

but I'll delay the
vote until you guys

give me something
one way or the other.

See you. All right.

[phone ringing]

Well, he stays open
longer than anybody else,

he's got two guns,
he's got a cage.

Maybe he figures he'll
field the first foul ball

that comes through the door.

You take him for
Charlie Bronson?

Everybody's got a role model.

Yeah, well, a witness
might be a little more useful.

You say he keeps one of the
guns in the back of the store?

That's where his
wife does the books.

Uh-huh. And she
has Thursdays off?

They have a saying in Greece:

"The one who doesn't
stand up, others bury alive."

[child talking]

So as far as you're concerned,

your husband
did the right thing?

As far as everybody on
that street is concerned.

It's not like you were
there to protect him.

Could you tell us what you
were doing Thursday night?

I was visiting my
parents in Jersey.

Look, we're not
the criminals here.

Mrs. Costas, justified or not,

your husband
did kill two people.

Do you see us celebrating?

You people are hounding him
like he did something wrong.

He had to defend himself.

You don't know what
it's like, this business.

Go downtown, talk to the
merchants on our block.

We all look out for each other.

Now, that's because of George.

He and the Koreans
organized everybody.

Down there, we know
who the criminals are.

(Logan) Makes me
feel all warm inside

to know that some
well-armed yahoos

are keeping our streets safe.

Isn't self-reliance
supposed to be a virtue?

Maybe they take the
mutual protection oath

one step further.

The dry cleaner, he looks like he'd
be pretty handy with a paintbrush.

He said he closed
at 8:00, remember?

Come on. By the time
he turns off the machine,

counts up the day's
receipts, it's maybe 8:30, 9:00.

Just in time to see his
pal Costas get in trouble.

[horn honking]

Everybody was gone at 8:00.

Mr. Rhee, covering up a
crime makes you an accessory.

I'm no accessory.

But if I'd been there,
I would have helped.

The police don't help us.

With people like Mr. Costas,
we don't worry so much.

He's a hero.

Shooting down
two guys in a cage?

You give medals
for that around here?

George knows how
to handle those bums.

He did it in Fort Lee.

He did what?

He showed us pictures.
Newspaper pictures.

He didn't show us any pictures.

Maybe you can tell
us about Fort Lee.

He had a store there.
That's all I know.

Some guys, they got a
cloud over their heads.

Like that guy in Li'l
Abner, what's his name?

George Costas. Him, too.

Guy was open less than a year

when three kids do a
smash-and-grab on him.

Are robbery's so
unusual in Fort Lee?

No. But eight months later,

some cracked-up mutt
walks in with a sawed-off.

This time Costas drops
him. One shot. We get there,

the mutt has a one-lane
tunnel through his forehead.

Costas is sitting there with a "Look
what I done, Ma" grin on his face.

You file charges?

For what? Lack of remorse?

You're talkin'
about a local hero.

Besides, there
was an eyewitness.

Nick Fortas. Is that Greek?

Brother-in-law. Saw
the whole thing go down.

And brother-in-laws
don't have reasons to lie.

(Nick) First time, they
took $8,000 in watches.

I told George what
he could do about it.

That wouldn't be voting
for more police, would it?

For all the good that does.

I took him down to the range,

fixed him up with an equalizer.

Never fired a gun
before in his life.

In Greece, they got weapons
laws up the ying-yang.

Nice to know we live
in a civilized country.

You're damn right.

Anyway, this Saturday,

this gorilla walks
in, tries to rip him off.

George puts one
between the eyebrows,

just like I taught him.

According to the report,
you were in the store

when the robbery occurred.

I was in the back,
putting in a computer.

So you never saw
the actual shooting?

I saw what needed to be seen.

You talk to him this week?

Sure, we're family.

So he told you what happened.

What is it with you guys?

Somebody does your job
for you, you jump all over him?

Look, Mr. Fortas, we're
only concerned because

some of the things your
brother-in-law told us

don't add up.

Like he never said word one
about the fireworks over here.

You ask around here... every
small businessman I know,

would do exactly
what George did.

Present company included?

Anyone tries to jack me up,

they'll find out in a heartbeat.

He packs up his guns

and moves across the river
to a target-rich environment.

Doesn't sound like a guy

looking for peace
and quiet to me.

Try fame and fortune.

Yeah, maybe more
than fame and fortune.

The guy just got off
the red-eye from Athens.

He's struggling to make a buck.

What's the first thing
that makes Amos famous?

What, he figures if
shooting one guy paid off,

shooting two gets him
a ticker-tape parade?

He works late, he works alone.

You think he was a
sitting duck by accident?

Yes, I do.

And I think you're breaking
a lot of rock over this guy.

Guns, Phil. Everybody's
gotta have one, right?

Smartest thing my
old man ever did was

never bring his
service revolver home.

But when he was on the job,
he was glad to have the weapon.

Well, he was a beat cop.

Well, do you think standin'
behind a cash register

in midtown's any less dangerous?

The Booker brothers
didn't go in there

to sing Happy Birthday to him.

This seem right to you?

It's Garland's

"Entry wound in posterior
lower left quadrant.

Exit upper right."

In near the kidney,
out the shoulder.

[phone ringing]


That's an upward trajectory.

How do you get one of
those runnin' out of a store?

I was going to
get to this in time.

You think you've got
the only car in here?

I got two drug busts

and three vehicular
homicides ahead of you.

Well, we certainly appreciate
all the time you can spare.

You say he was
laying flat on the seat?

He might've rolled up
there after he was shot.

Right. Then if he was down here,

he was probably
searching for his keys.

So, given the loss
of kinetic energy


and the residual velocity,


your projectile

winds up right here.

(Cerreta) The slug is a .38,

but it's only a probable
match to Costas' gun.

That would make
seven slugs from Costas.

His gun holds six.

He reloaded?

He found Garland in the car.

Garland was reaching
down for his keys.

Costas shot him.

Wait a minute.

CSU found a crowbar
under the seat.

Garland might've
been reaching for it.

To do what, jump up and
take a piece out of Costas?

Why not? He might've had

a legitimate concern
for his safety.

Phil, you'd feel that way

whether there was
a crowbar or not.

At any rate, it doesn't matter.

Once the Bookers left the store,

Costas had no right
to hunt them down.

Not the way I read it.

A private person may
use deadly force to effect

the arrest of a person
who's committed a robbery.

The justification defense

covers officer-involved

Phil has investigated a few...


And found every single
one of them justified.

All by statute.

(Stone) This
statute says robbery.

The Bookers
didn't take anything.

There was no robbery.

Costas had nothing to recover.

Costas had no reason to
be out in the street with a gun

unless he was looking
to shoot somebody.

How could he have known

they weren't gonna
come back to kill him?

Let's remember that
this man was the victim.

No matter how bad
his situation looks,

Costas did have other options.

Deadly physical force

shouldn't be the first
club out of the bag.

We charge him,
murder two, two counts.

What is it, are we
hard up for bad guys?

You'd let him walk?

At least on Cecil Booker.

We'll let a grand jury
make that determination.

Read him his rights.


Mr. Costas, you mind coming out

from behind the counter, please?

What do you want?

Mr. Costas, please.

(Logan) You want
to turn around, sir?

What are you doing with him?

George Costas,
you're under arrest

for the murder of
Garland and Cecil Booker.

You have the right
to remain silent.

If you refuse that right,

anything you do say can
and will be used against you

in a court of law. Do
you understand that?


You have the
right to an attorney.

(female reporter) In the portion
of tape released by his attorney,

Mr. Costas is seen
exchanging shots

with his would-be robbers.

Mr. Costas' lawyer claims
the tape shows clearly...

Every news director from
here to Albany ran it last night.

Forwards, backwards,
slow motion.

Costas is getting more
play than Zapruder.

With only five
seconds' worth of tape.

If all the public sees is
what Drakos lets them see...

Before it's over, they'll
make him king for a day.

We can stake our own claims on
the hearts and minds of the jury.

Yeah, you play
the rest of that tape

and quicker than you
can press the stop button,

Drakos'll be in front of a judge

arguing for a change of venue.

He's already dumped
toxins in the well.

The gun lobby has
canonized Goetz.

They don't need another martyr.

You drop the charge
on Cecil Booker

down to weapons violation,

and you give Costas a
plea on Garland Booker.

Man one, four to 12 years?

Ben, only criminals go to jail.

What do you call someone who
executes people on the street?

(Drakos) An American hero.

Once they entered the store,

my client had every
right to shoot them.

Garland Booker was
mortally wounded.

It's unlikely he walked 80 yards

from the store to his car.

Look, I get one store
owner on that jury,

and the best you can
hope for is a mistrial.

And you're willing to stake
your client's future on that?

Mr. Costas, four
years at Bedford

is a whole sight better
than 25-to-life at Attica.

Oh, you want me to say it was
wrong for me to defend myself?

He was reaching down in the car.

He could have had a gun there.

[speaking in Greek]

Mr. Costas, are
you now admitting

you shot Garland
Booker at the car?

All right, this meeting is over.

You want to talk negligent
homicide, you call us.

I don't want a deal.

I am not going one day in jail.


I listen to you, to Nick.
It's enough. I am innocent.

I know other cases like this,
in Baltimore, in Los Angeles.

People like me, they
defend themselves,

they don't go to jail.

And that's not relevant, sir.

You ask anybody on the street.

They will tell you
what I did was right.

Nobody protects us. Nobody.

[speaking in Greek]

We'll let a jury decide
who the victim is.

Two armed felons or Mr. Costas.

It's a closed shop, Adam.
Costas wants a trial.

He has the better odds.

Hung jury is a
gift. Call his lawyer.

If we let him walk, we're
endorsing an armed populace

that metes out
justice as they see fit.

If we tried him and lose,
it's the same message.

With our credibility
as an appetizer.

Adam, I think we're
doing the right thing.

Is that a refusal?

Your call.

In the sequence we've just seen,

did you measure the change
in position of the victims...

while Mr. Costas fired?

Yes. They moved six
feet away from Mr. Costas

and out the door.

And what conclusion
did you draw from that?

The victims were in retreat
when Mr. Costas fired at them.

The object in
Mr. Costas' left hand,

could you identify it?

That appears to be
an HKS Speedloader.

It's used to quick-load
six rounds into the revolver.

Thank you, Detective.

From earlier testimony, we
learned that Garland Booker

suffered a mortal wound
that entered his back.

From the evidence, could you
determine how he received it?

Yes, he was shot in the back

while sitting in the
driver's seat, leaning down.

And what object,
if any, did you find

on the floor under
the dashboard?

We found a pair of car keys.

Did you find any objects
under the front seat?

Yes. Candy wrappers, two flares,

and a crowbar approximately
12 inches in length.

And where under the front
seat did you find the crowbar?

Over on the passenger side,
toward the rear of the seat.

Was it within reach of
someone behind the wheel?


Thank you.

Detective, you testified that

when you saw the fresh
paint in my client's store,

that you suspected that he
was the victim of a robbery.

Did you have any other
basis for these suspicions?

Yes. Cecil Booker's rap sheet

had convictions for
armed robbery and assault.

And Garland Booker's rap sheet?

Objection. Irrelevance.

I'll allow it. Detective?

Garland Booker had been

convicted for grand theft
auto, burglary, and assault.

And what was the
assault charge for?

Mr. Booker was pulled
over in a stolen car

while intoxicated.

He then attacked the arresting
officer with a screwdriver.

Thank you.

(Costas) No, they
were not leaving.

They were getting
ready to shoot again.

(Drakos) Why do you think that?

The smaller one, he
was reaching behind him

to his back pocket.

Advance to frame 30-20
at half speed, please.

There! There! Right
there. You see his hand?

I thought he was armed.

I thought he was
going for a gun.

That's why I keep shooting.

Now, when you left your store,

what was going on in your mind?

These men, they
tried to kill me.

They were dangerous.

It was my duty as a
citizen to stop them.

(Drakos) What happened outside?

The, uh, big one was staggering.

He disappeared into a building.

The other one was running.

I saw him get into the car.

What did you do?

I yelled at him to stop,

but he was grabbing for
something on the floor,

so I shot to defend my life.

Why didn't you call the
police after it was over?

The first time, in Fort Lee,

these animals tried to
kill my wife for revenge.

I did not want that
to happen again.

I was just trying to
do what was right.

Always, just what was right.

Where did you
learn what was right?

In citizenship class.

Where I come from, only
police and soldiers have guns.

People like me cannot defend
ourselves from criminals.

But here I learned everybody
has the right to bear arms,

like the minuteman.

I... I just follow
what I learned.

Thank you.

Mr. Costas, this threatening
movement that you spoke of...

Cecil Booker and
the security cage

are between you
and Garland Booker.

In all this confusion
and all this shooting,

how could you
even see that hand?

On the camera,
everything looks different.

To my eye, it looked like
he was going for a gun.

He was wounded. He
was trying to get away.

You found that threatening?

I was scared.

I thought he was
going to shoot me.

So scared that you
ran out after him?

The first time that
you were robbed,

how did you feel,
scared or angry?


"Never again." Isn't
that what you thought?

I work hard. What do you expect?

And you became an expert shot.


And if the Booker brothers
ever came into your store,

you'd be ready for 'em.

I was going to
protect my business.

How? By hunting
Garland Booker down

and shooting him in the back?

He was reaching in
the car for a weapon.

He had a crowbar.

Did you see the crowbar? No.

Did you see the
keys on the floor?

It was self-defense.

It was an execution.


You have no right to say that!

These people can come
in off the street and kill me?

Not like you!

Mr. Costas.

It's voodoo lawyering.

A blink becomes a
threatening gesture.

Comes down to whether

the jury believes
their eyes or their ears.

Always think you
have a smoking gun,

till the smoke
blows in your face.

You think it was a
mistake to put in the tape?

You play it once, it's shocking.

Ten times, interesting.

A hundred times and your
precious tape becomes

whatever the jury
wants to read into it.

[intercom buzzing] Or for whatever
the spin doctors tell them to.

Costas killed a couple of
punks for mom and apple pie.

[intercom buzzing]

A jury knows when it's
being sold a bill of goods,

even if it is written in
red, white, and blue.

Depends on the
endorsement. That was Cerreta.

Costas' lawyer just
subpoenaed him.

Detective Cerreta's
testimony can only be a rehash

of what detective
Logan's already testified to.

Well, as I read his record,

he's testified in 19 proceedings

as an expert on the
use of deadly force.

In police shootings, Your Honor.

That's totally irrelevant.
Justification is justification,

no matter who pulls the trigger.

Is it irrelevant that he found all
of those 19 shootings justified?

The state of New
York has qualified him

as an expert before, Mr. Stone.

I see no reason to
break with tradition.

[phone ringing]

Ben, I was not looking
to get subpoenaed.

But I want you to know, so
there's no misunderstanding.

If he asks my opinion,
I will not perjure myself.

As long as you understand
that when he shot those men

he wasn't wearing a uniform and he
couldn't act under the color of authority.

In other words, if he were a cop

you would not have indicted.

So as a result of
your investigation

and your viewing the videotape,

have you formed an opinion
about the shooting? Yes.

Detective Cerreta,
limiting your answer

only to the acts viewed
on the videotape,

in your opinion, do
Mr. Costas' actions

constitute a justifiable
use of deadly force?

Only his actions on the tape?

Right. Do they constitute

a justifiable use
of deadly force?

In my opinion,

Mr. Costas' actions on
the tape were justified

under Section 35-15,
Subdivision Two,

Paragraph B of the Penal Code.

Now, finally, Detective,
a hypothetical.

Would a police officer

confronting an armed
robbery suspect,

be justified in
fearing for his life?

I would have to say yes.

Thank you.

Uh, Detective, how long have
you been in law enforcement?

23 years.

And how often have you fired
your gun in the line of duty?

I've never had occasion to.

Are you familiar
with the New York

City Police
Department guidelines

on the use of
physical deadly force?


And if you were
confronted with a suspect

who was reaching for
something that might be a gun,

what would you do
according to these guidelines?

I would not
discharge my revolver

until I saw a weapon
in the suspect's hand.

And if you saw a citizen

running down the street
with a gun, chasing someone,

what would you do?

I would probably arrest him.

Thank you, sir.

Every law-abiding
citizen has the right

to reasonably defend
himself from imminent harm.

That's what the law says.

The law also says

that a citizen may
not use deadly force

if he can retreat
with complete safety.

Now, not reasonable safety,

not probable safety,
but complete safety.

Mr. Costas was endangered

the minute that Cecil
and Garland Booker

walked into his store.

Just look at the gun
in Cecil Booker's hand.

A fully loaded .45

Comply or resist, those
were my client's choices.

And in his world,
that's no choice at all.

Look what happened to the
storeowners in Los Angeles.

George Costas didn't
give in to those hoodlums.

He stood his grounds,

as was his right.

George Costas
fired the first shot.

He kept shooting,

even after the Bookers
had retreated from the store.

And after they were
gone, what did he do?

A reasonable man
would have phoned 911.

A reasonable man

would've stayed in
the safety of his store

and waited for the police.

But not George Costas.

He wanted revenge.

And maybe he wanted glory.

But the minute he
crossed his threshold,

to kill Garland Booker,

he stepped far
beyond where the law

allows the use of
physical deadly force.

He became the aggressor.

And it doesn't matter

what kind of life
Garland Booker led.

What matters to this courtroom

is the manner in which
that life was ended.

Finally, you must ask yourself,

do you want to live in a city

where an ordinary citizen

is allowed to run the
streets with a gun,

looking for someone on
whom to wreak vengeance?

Someone he might
mistake you for.

(Judge) Have you
reached a verdict?

Yes, we have, Your Honor.

As to the first count
in the indictment

murder in the second
degree of Cecil Booker,

how does the jury find?

Not guilty.

[people murmuring]

As to the second
count in the indictment,

murder in the second
degree of Garland Booker,

how does the jury find?

Guilty, Your Honor.

(Mrs. Costas) Don't!

[speaking in Greek]


Costas filed his appeal.

Public's rallying around. A
defense fund's been set up.

Even the gun lobby's kicking in.

I know 12 citizens who
won't be joining the crusade.

Eight. Four of the jurors
were on the morning news

saying they felt pressured
to convict Mr. Costas.

Jury's remorse.

It rises with the
unpopularity of the verdict.

Their heads aren't the
only ones on the block.

Unless the victim
qualifies for sainthood,

we shouldn't prosecute?

Lyndon Johnson tried
governing by opinion polls.

It didn't work.