Law & Order (1990) s03e07 Episode Script

Self Defense

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.
Save some for groceries, big shot.
I know, I know, Allie's been on my case.
The baby's due in three weeks.
Well, tell her you're investir in his future.
Yeah, you tell her.
Hey, I got me a bad Ford.
Yeah? I got a Mercedes.
Watch out for that grille, man.
Too late, man.
I already took out a headlight.
This piece of crap, bust out a headlight, it's an improvement.
Holy jeez.
I already told him what.
Pop! Pop! Pop! I don't know how many times.
Like a car.
What time was that? Did you happen to look out your window? In this neighborhood, you don't wanna look too much.
Thank you, Mrs.
The officer'll see you home.
Oh, don't bother.
It would just attract attention.
Tapped twice in the lower back.
Eyes cloudy, rigor's set in.
Say, 10 hours.
Garland Booker, 21 years old.
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.
Oh, yeah.
A double-header.
Big deal with a big gun.
Looks like he crawled in here and died.
Cecil Booker, 27.
Somebody's pruning the family tree.
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.
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.
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.
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 waitir for an excuse to toss this apartment.
Cleanir lady's already been here.
I'm spic and span.
Was he your partner? Not for a long time.
Profits had a way of goir up in smoke when he was around.
Look, everybody knows Cecil was no kind of player.
Only buyir 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.
Rhee, what time did you close last night? the blue Ford parked right out in front here? No.
These guys, they're dead? 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.
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 bitir last night? Not good.
I close at 8:00.
Uh, it's a tough street.
L 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.
Another "no see, no hear.
" The neighborhood watch must have skipped this block.
There's a lot of merchandise here won'th stealing.
Cecil was talkir about payir back his debts.
His sheet included armed robbery.
Costas? 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.
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 gurs a right-six.
Sorry, fellows.
If you were scared of beir 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.
We sold that other gun.
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, wherd you do it? Last weekend.
It smells a little fresher than that.
When we start diggir under this paint, what are we going to find? Bullets? 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, Can'tier.
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 runnir 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.
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.
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.
45s from Cecil.
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.
He said he buzzed them in, shootir 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.
"Docket number 774-124.
People versus George R.
" The charges are two counts of murder in the second degree.
Give us a plea, Mr.
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.
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.
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.
Your Honor Bail is set at $100,000.
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 wasrt 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oh, not without the statements Costas made to you.
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 wasrt 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.
" And custody means Miranda.
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.
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.
Spontaneous pre-custodial statements made before the police had reason to suspect Mr.
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.
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.
And she has Thursdays off? They have a saying in Greece: "The one who doesn't stand up, others bury alive.
" 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.
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.
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.
Everybody was gone at 8:00.
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'I 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 talkir 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.
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.
Doesrt 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 standir behind a cash register in midtowrs 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 through-and-through.
"Entry wound in posterior lower left quadrant.
Exit upper right.
" In near the kidney, out the shoulder.
That's an upward trajectory.
How do you get one of those runnir 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.
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.
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 shootings.
Phil has investigated a few Nineteen.
and found every single one of them justified.
All by statute.
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 werert 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.
Costas, you mind coming out from behind the counter, please? What do you want? Mr.
Costas, please.
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? Yes.
You have the right to an attorney.
In the portion of tape released by his attorney, Mr.
Costas is seen exchanging shots with his would-be robbers.
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' won'th 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? 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.
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.
George 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.
We'll let a jury decide who the victim is.
Two armed felons or Mr.
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 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? No.
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.
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.
No, they were not leaving.
They were getting ready to shoot again.
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.
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.
L I just follow what I learned.
Thank you.
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? Both.
"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.
Objection! You have no right to say that! These people can come in off the street and kill me? Not like you! Mr.
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.
Or for whatever the spin doctors tell them to.
Costas killed a couple of punks for mom and apple pie.
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 Logars 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.
I see no reason to break with tradition.
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 wasrt 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? 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? Yes.
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.
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 semi-automatic.
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.
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.
As to the second count in the indictment, murder in the second degree of Garland Booker, how does the jury find? Guilty, Your Honor.
Don't! 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.
Four of the jurors were on the morning news saying they felt pressured to convict Mr.
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.