Law & Order (1990) s11e04 Episode Script


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.
Got a bunch of new jacks coming in this afternoon.
Glad it's not my shift.
Amen, nothing I hate worse than (MEN SHOUTING) Everybody, stay where you are! (ALARM BLARING) (MEN YELLING) Against the walls! Everybody line up.
Nobody move! I got one down here.
I need a medic.
OFFICER: We need a medic in the hallway outside.
MAN: (YELLING) The son of a bitch stabbed me.
Who? Who did Who was it? Son of a bitch.
What? Who is it? Alejo Dead.
says one well-placed stab to the heart, and death would've been instantaneous.
Luck or skill, I wonder.
One or the other.
We found this on the floor.
We marked the location.
Any idea who belongs to it? We're working on that.
ED: Rafael Alejo? (SCOFFS) If it had to be somebody.
Head of the Latin Lobos.
I thought he was bolted down in Attica till the next ice age.
He killed some guy that touched his weights.
Judge moved the trial down here, and now we got him.
What about the other guy who got stabbed? Hector Diaz.
He a Lobo, too? File says he joined a couple years ago but he was movin' up pretty fast.
Maybe too fast.
I don't know.
That's your job to find out, isn't it? Well, the hours aren't that good, but you sure meet a lot of interesting people.
BENNETT: Right there, that's Diaz in the white shirt and here's Alejo not too far behind.
We've watched it four times.
We can't tell from this what started the fight or who did the stabbing.
Well, what about the other camera? There's a blind spot.
The place is full of 'em.
No doubt the inmates know where the blind spots are.
They know everything.
BRISCOE: What's Hector Diaz in for? Assault on a police officer, a Detective Quinn.
So where'd the shank come from? We should've found it.
You can't kick us any harder than we're kicking ourselves.
They in contact with each other, Diaz and Alejo? Don't see how.
Diaz is in general population, Alejo's locked down in the segregation unit.
Well, how'd they end up in the corridor at the same time? BENNETT: Move these guys around? Anything can happen.
A CO's hung up, can't release a gate in time, you're waiting.
Someone shows up on his way to somewhere else.
You want to control it, but sometimes it gets away from you.
ED: Okay, Diaz, somebody stabs you and you don't see anything? Yeah.
Alejo come after you or you go after him? Neither one.
We've got a shank drippin' with blood, we gonna turn up your prints on it? You do and you let me know.
Until then, get your black nose out of my ass.
(GRUNTING) Am I gonna have to conduct a race-relations workshop with you? Oh, you just got yourself written up.
Might as well make it an advanced workshop.
No more ignorant remarks, Hector.
(BREATHING HEAVILY) I knew Rafael Alejo when I was in the Gang Unit, the guy's the worst.
I'm glad we took him down when we did.
What'd you get him for? He put out a hit on one of his lieutenants, the shooter took out the target, the target's wife and the wife's sister.
Isn't that against the rules? Mmm-hmm, which is why Alejo killed the shooter.
That's the one we got him for.
Although he's racked up a few more since then.
Why are you thinking Hector Diaz killed him? Mainly their position in the hallway.
What's the motive? As long as he's alive, Alejo's on top.
In prison or out.
Now, somebody wanted to get rid of him and, uh, it looks like Diaz got the assignment.
The prints on the shank found at the scene are too smudged to ID.
All right.
Right now we're guessing.
Check with the Gang Unit, see if you can get something concrete.
We haven't been on the Lobos much since Alejo went away.
He was the big problem.
The others are small-time, not worth the manpower.
Why'd Diaz go after Detective Quinn? They ran into each other.
Hey, let's go, man.
You're late.
Quinn collared him a couple of times.
Diaz decided to get even.
Who knows with these guys? Maybe he was on the pipe.
Who took over as jefe when Alejo went upstate? Nobody.
Without Alejo, these clowns couldn't organize a sock drawer.
Maybe Diaz thought he could take over.
No idea.
Is it worth asking Quinn? Detective Quinn's on medical leave till who knows when.
It was three weeks ago.
How bad did he get hurt? Bad.
Maybe Diaz is your guy, but you know Alejo, Ed.
He had enough enemies to populate a small country.
Sorry I can't help.
Thanks, Navarro.
So we're gonna have to talk to every inmate in Rikers, and not one of them's gonna tell us a thing.
Navarro's not being straight with us.
Would Navarro have any reason to lie to you? To him, information is power.
He likes to keep it in the family.
And you're not family anymore.
I got a friend from the old days I can talk to.
I got a nephew.
What's this one need? He's sellin' hot dogs down at Astor Place.
Cops keep hassling him over nothing.
An expired tax stamp, peddler's permit.
They keep this up, he's gonna be doing burglaries again.
All right.
I'll talk to my summons guy down at the ninth.
Is that cool? Yeah.
Look, all I know about Diaz is Alejo really liked his style.
He was movin' him up pretty fast.
So Alejo put Diaz in charge when he went away? No way.
Alejo was running the gang till the day he died.
He busted his butt for about year, trying to break into the big-time distribution, you know.
Well, how the hell's Alejo gonna run things when he's on lockdown in Attica? No unmonitored phone calls or letters, no visitors.
Except from his lawyer.
According to my informant, the drug deal that Alejo was working on was worth a couple mil, and that Alejo's lawyer was the point man, arranging everything.
Any indication Diaz moved in on the deal? Well, the Cl doesn't know, but he did say that Diaz is ambitious and has whatever it takes.
So we're thinking Diaz knew Alejo was gonna be at Rikers and got himself arrested so he could kill Alejo and take over his half of the proceeds.
But he could've gotten himself collared for kicking a detective's shin.
Why'd he bust him up so bad? Payback.
Drug deal go down yet? Nope.
Your Cl know the time or place? He said the lawyer was the only one that knew the details.
Yeah, uh, Benson White.
We checked with the State Bar Association, the guy should've been disbarred by now.
Well, if Diaz killed Alejo for half a share, Mr.
White may be a dead man for the other half.
I don't know any Hector Diaz.
My client was Rafael Alejo.
He's dead, end of story.
Yeah, except for the 2 million dollar delivery you two set up.
(SCOFFS) If I had 2 million dollars, I'd be on Crete, playing strip backgammon with Helen of Troy.
Yeah, we'll check in next week, see if you're still alive.
You think you'll remember him when he's stabbing you? (LAUGHS) Your concern is touching.
I still don't know Hector Diaz.
How reliable's your informant? He's been wrong, but he's never lied to me.
You think this guy's lying about not knowing Diaz? I don't know.
Would a lawyer lie? There's a first time for everything.
Let's talk to Diaz again.
Maybe you ought to pick up a little something.
Something to let him know you're sorry about last time.
Don't worry, Lennie, I'll be nice.
"Diaz, Hector.
" Made bail yesterday.
I guess the price of assaulting a cop's gone up.
Who posted the bond? Party name of Benson White.
Your Cl's good.
I don't think it was that hard for him to find Diaz.
Apparently he was bragging all over town, he put a detective in the hospital.
ED: Wanna pick him up? Why not? He can't be hungry again already.
Security Council meeting? Let's find out.
Take the back.
You got kielbasa? Polish sausage? Police! Open up! What's your hurry? Uh-uh.
Right over here.
Who else is in the back? You got a warrant? I don't need a warrant.
What I have is exigent circumstances, wouldn't you agree? All right, stand up.
Nice and slow.
Put your hands on top of your head.
Don't move! (SIGHS) Detective Green.
Detective Quinn.
This is Quinn? (SIGHING) Detective Diaz, I presume.
I guess I gotta take the cuffs off.
Don't fall all over yourself apologizing.
Don't worry about it.
These idiots came close to blowing two years worth of undercover work.
These idiots? What about you not giving us a heads-up when you knew we were investigating one of your people? It was too big a risk and you know it.
BRISCOE: Oh, right.
It's not like we're cops or anything.
Not like I wasn't in the Gang Unit for two and a half years.
Well, you're not in it now.
I operate on a strict need-to-know basis.
People's lives depend on that.
Don't you dare lecture us on what people's lives depend on.
These detectives did need to know.
You didn't tell them, and because of that, we wasted days thinking Diaz was the killer.
I still haven't heard anything that proves he's not.
Diaz didn't kill that puke.
Well, can he tell us who did, or would he rather not say? He has no idea.
One more day, we'd have been all over that drug delivery.
We'd have shut the Lobos down.
(DOOR BANGING) Quinn told us that Diaz's job was to find the time and the place of the drug deal.
The Gang Unit dummied up his arrest, so he could get close to Alejo in Rikers.
Look, this came from the M.
The metal bolt found at the scene doesn't match the wound.
The murder weapon is still out there.
How often do you search the place? Let's put it this way, it's not an infrequent occurrence.
ED: And you find everything, right? Everything.
Drugs, liquor, cook tops, steam irons.
How the hell do they manage to bring in steam irons? They manage.
Captain? Twenty-two so far.
BRISCOE: Twenty-two shanks? In a variety of sizes and styles.
We'll bag 'em and tag 'em and send 'em to the M.
ED: The M.
says that's the murder weapon.
Wiped clean, no prints.
Yeah, it was found in the Central Punitive Segregation Unit.
Cell of inmate Daniel M.
The only inmate from CPSU who was in the visit area, was Alejo.
You know, this shank could've been passed around a dozen times since the murder.
We'd like to talk to Kiley.
Be my guest.
I didn't know the weapon was in there.
Nobody passed it to you to hide? Your friend deaf? How long you been in that cell? Five weeks.
One hour a day in the yard, the occasional shower, otherwise in the cell.
They ever double you up with anybody? Frequently.
According to the records, September 17, it was Judd Larson.
What a dear, sweet man.
I think it's been almost a year since he killed anyone.
The day Alejo was killed, did Larson go to the visit room? Yes, he did.
And no, I don't know who it was to see, and no, I didn't ask him.
Did you notice anything unusual when he got back? He was bleeding, not that that's overly unusual.
Bleeding where? His arm.
Who escorted him to the visit room? There wasn't any paperwork because it was a last-minute visit.
Larson's attorney called to set it up.
I did the paperwork later.
This is the list you gave us of the inmates in the hallway, and there's no Judd Larson on here.
You said you wanted the gang members who were there.
Could Judd Larson have killed Alejo? I don't see how.
I was with him.
His cell-mate said he had a cut on his arm.
The infirmary had no record of it being treated.
I didn't see it, and he didn't tell me about it.
Well, did you search him before you took him back to the Segregation Unit? In a situation like that, we frisk everybody.
You did frisk him, right, Pete? I gave him a quick pat down.
I wanted to get him out of there and back to the CPSU.
Thank you, Officer Bennett.
That'll be all.
What's Larson's story? He's doin' natural life at Sing Sing.
Came here to Manhattan for a court appearance.
Any contact between Larson and Alejo before the murder? Not likely.
Alejo was segregated.
Well, how did Larson know that Alejo would be in the visit area? Inmate grapevine? I don't know.
Well, according to this, Larson called his attorney the day before the murder.
Bennett said the lawyer called at the last minute to request a visit.
Yeah, Larson called her to come out.
She called to make the arrangements.
I mean, so what? So did he really need to see his lawyer, or was this some scam to get Larson in the same room with Alejo? You'll have to ask Larson.
Larson's in for killing his wife.
He stabbed her 14 times.
Before that, he did eight years for stabbing some guy outside a bar.
What's his connection with Alejo? The only thing that we could find is that they were at Sing Sing together a couple of years ago.
Yeah, we called up there.
They're checking the records.
Larson's cell-mate at Rikers said that he had a cut on his arm when he came back from the visit area.
The metal bolt that was found at the scene had blood on it, yes? We sent it to the lab to see if the blood type matches Larson's.
Well, you know what to do if it does.
(SIGHS) Larson and Alejo were here at the same time two years ago, from April 20 to July 8, when we transferred Alejo to Attica.
Any incidents between them? Alejo had incidents with a lot of people.
ED: When was the one between him and Larson? Uh "July 7,1998.
" "Inmate Alejo claimed inmate Larson received more than the allotted" "three waffles at breakfast.
" "A fight ensued in the mess hall.
" "Inmate Larson slammed inmate Alejo into the wall," "and informed him that an upward thrust" "under the third button from the top would puncture the heart" "and cause immediate death.
" Larson made shanks? We've taken, uh, over the years.
Take his privileges away, keep locking him, nothing makes a bit of difference.
He ever threaten Alejo other than that one time? Never got the chance.
The next day Alejo was shipped out.
(DOOR BUZZING) Judd Larson? Since you're outside my cell, I have to assume you know what my name is.
And I have to assume you know why we're here, so why don't you just stand up and let's get this over with, huh? Where am I being transported to? Rikers.
All right? You're under arrest for the murder of Rafael Alejo.
You like Rikers, right, Larson? I like it fine.
ARONSON: You can't tie the weapon to Mr.
Nobody saw anything.
You've got a hallway full of people who could've done it.
You'll never even get an indictment.
You're aware you'll be facing the death penalty? Will we be done in time for lunch in the mess hall, or will I be provided with my meal in here? We'll be done in plenty of time.
You want to save the state the time and expense of atrial, I'll see what I can do for you.
It's not my expense.
And I got nothing but time.
Give it up, Mr.
McCoy, you have no case.
Let's find out how he knew Alejo would be in the visit room.
An inmate named Soriano seems to have been the flashpoint for the trouble.
He says a CO shoved him, knocking him into another inmate, who took offense and started swinging.
Shoved him deliberately? So he says.
No reason to lie about that unless he started it himself.
He's 5'4", 120 pounds.
Why would he start anything? The disturbance was staged to cover the crime.
I'd say it's a distinct possibility.
BY Whom? The CO who escorted Larson into the visit room? Peter Bennett.
You looked at his personnel file? Captain Webber wouldn't let me.
He cited confidentiality of employee records.
Get a subpoena.
GRANICK: This is a fishing expedition, Your Honor.
Officer Bennett escorted inmate Larson to the visit room.
There have been allegations he created the disturbance that allowed Larson to get to Alejo.
Allegations made by whom? An inmate looking to get even.
I'm duty-bound to investigate even allegations made by inmates.
At this point, you have nothing that links Officer Bennett to the crime, is that right? What I have is purely circumstantial and a long way from sufficient to make a case.
Then why are we here? What I'm looking for is the ability to further investigate what may, or may not, have been Officer Bennett's role.
Well, I see nothing unduly burdensome in that.
The administration at Rikers Island is instructed to turn over the requested documents to the District Attorney's office forthwith.
How long will your clients need, Mr.
Granick? Seventy-two hours, minimum.
If Rikers is short of clerks, I can pull the file and copy it myself, Your Honor.
And we have a solution.
(CLEARING THROAT) Should I just keep the originals here? Sure.
Excuse me.
(CLEARING THROAT) Thanks for your help.
JACK: Bennett worked the Segregation Unit three of the five days preceding the murder.
So he had the opportunity to chat with Larson.
An Officer Philip McNaught was assigned to escort Larson to the visit room.
Bennett replaced him at the last minute.
At Bennett's request.
Does it say why? No.
I'm getting a lot of nasty calls from the Department of Corrections.
How sure are we that an officer's involved? Well, Larson carried a shank from the CPSU to the visit room and back.
Officer Bennett failed to discover the weapon either before or after the murder.
Even though searches were mandated by the circumstances.
Bennett also failed to identify Larson to the police as being one of the inmates at the scene.
It's arguable, although not yet provable, that Bennett started the disturbance.
What's his motive? Don't know yet.
We're not getting much cooperation from the Department of Corrections.
They've circled the wagons.
Well, the DOC's not running its own little fiefdom over there.
If they won't cooperate, you know, hit 'em with more subpoenas.
Why would Bennett want Alejo dead? I talked to Alejo's relatives, my Cl, none of them heard of Bennett.
Bennett had a habit of switching assignments.
Shifts, days off, holiday time.
ED: So does half the squad here.
Take a look at their duty rosters.
Every shift change for the past year put him with an Officer Donahue.
Angela Donahue? Yeah.
I saw her name in Alejo's case file.
When she was at Attica, he raped her.
Okay, we're sure Bennett and her were involved, it's not just a coincidence, him changing his shifts? Pull Bennett's IUDs and credit-card data.
BRISCOE: We'll need a subpoena.
I'll get you a subpoena.
Officer Donahue? Yep.
I'm Abbie Carmichael from the Manhattan District Attorney's office.
What can I do for you? We have information that you and Peter Bennett are romantically involved with each other.
That's none of your business.
I'm doing what I have to do, Officer.
Why? Because Rafael Alejo got killed? No.
All you have to do with this one, is throw dirt on him and forget he ever lived.
We know you worked at Attica and we know what Alejo did to you.
No stone unturned, right? He had Alejo killed because of what he did to you.
Look, as far as I know, it was one inmate stabbing another.
Peter had nothing to do with it.
If Peter would plead guilty to a lesser charge, we'd be open to discussing a considerable reduction in his sentence.
You want me to talk him into it? As of now, he may be charged with murder for hire.
That carries a possible death sentence, at a minimum Yeah? Well, shame on you for that.
Alejo's attack on Ms.
Donahue was brutal, and it took her a long time to recover both physically and emotionally.
So Bennett sees himself as the white knight? Well, Briscoe and Green dug up three incidents where Bennett decked guys for hitting on Donahue.
Two in a bar, one at a ball game.
So he had Alejo killed to avenge her honor.
Can't say it's never happened before.
And to sell this to a jury, we have Judd Larson, sociopath and murderer.
Who Bennett knew when they were both upstate at Attica.
I believe Bennett set it up, Jack.
Will anyone else? I don't know.
What does Bennett say? Bennett's not talking.
Let's see what we can get out of Larson.
Larson can't confirm or deny your suspicions about Officer Bennett.
He doesn't know anything about who killed Rafael Alejo.
We're way past that, Ms.
ARONSON: We don't think we're past anything.
We don't think you have a case.
I have a 17-year-old son.
He's incarcerated at Coxsackie.
I'd like him transferred to Hudson.
Can I have a moment with my client please? If he stays where he is, the same thing that happened to me'll happen to him.
Arrange for a transfer and I'll testify.
To what? ARONSON: Wait a second, before he says anything, take the death penalty off the table.
Since he's already a lifer, that would be one murder free.
Do what I'm asking with my son.
If I can use what you tell me, you have a deal.
Bennett told me they'd go easy on my boy if I'd fix a problem for him.
What exactly did Mr.
Bennett ask you to do? What I said.
Fix Alejo.
JUDGE: Next case.
"Indictment number 20561" People v.
Peter Bennett, murder in the second degree.
Granick? Your Honor, it's my understanding that Correction Officer Bennett was transported to the courthouse.
Beyond that, I have no idea as to his whereabouts.
The defendant is not available at this time, Your Honor.
We'll come back to him.
Next case.
No defendants are available, Judge.
Excuse me? To show solidarity with Bennett, the officers at Rikers are doing everything by the book.
Which means not handing over prisoners for arraignment or trial unless all the paperwork is done perfectly.
How many went through? Well, Berman had 83 cases on his docket.
He arraigned 10.
It's a one-day action.
What'll they do if we convict him? What's the likelihood of that happening? Let's see, Larson's our star witness.
He murdered three people.
And the victim makes Larson look like Mother Teresa.
Well, what about a plea? He's not interested.
Why plead when you can walk? You're romantically involved with the defendant, is that not right, Officer Donahue? Yes.
Does this relationship date to when you were both working at Attica State Prison? Right.
Which is where you were raped by Rafael Alejo.
Right again.
What was Officer Bennett's reaction to your being raped? What do you think? You've been qualified as a hostile witness, Ms.
Donahue, there's no onus on you to prove that you're hostile.
Please answer the question.
He was upset.
Officer Bennett was transferred to another facility, immediately following the incident, wasn't he? A few days after what you call the incident, yes.
COs are transferred all the time.
Wasn't the reason it happened in Officer Bennett's case that the prison authority was concerned about him taking violent retribution against Rafael Alejo? You'd have to ask the prison authority.
On March 17 of this year, did the defendant, in your presence, in a bar in Pearl River, attack another man for asking to buy you a drink? I was propositioned.
The guy was rude and insulting and Officer Bennett did what most guys I know in that situation would do.
Was that also the case in the stands of a Jets game and the parking lot of the Short Hills mall, both of which times the police were called and Officer Bennett led away in handcuffs? Officer Bennett felt it necessary to defend me.
In each case, I feel his actions were justified.
Are you in love with Officer Bennett, Officer Donahue? Yes.
JACK: Is it fair to say that your answers here today are calculated to prevent him from having to go to prison? My answers are the truth.
Nothing further.
I know this is difficult, but I'd like you to describe the circumstances of your attack and rape at the hands of Rafael Alejo.
Objection, Your Honor.
That the rape occurred is a matter of record.
The details of it are irrelevant and it can only serve to prejudice the jury against the murder victim.
Your Honor, the rape was introduced into evidence by Mr.
The objection's overruled.
Officer Donahue? Alejo said he had chest pains.
I took him out of his cell and escorted him to the infirmary.
We were on a stairwell and he collapsed.
I thought he was having a heart attack, and I leaned down to check for a pulse.
When I did so, he grabbed me, he overpowered me and he got my radio away from me.
Would you describe what happened next? He held me down, he ripped my pants off, he took my stick and he raped me with it.
And the whole time, he had this look on his face like, uh, like it was a practical joke.
Like it was nothing.
(WHIMPERING) Would you describe what happened in the aftermath? I went on disability for six months.
The inmate was sent to solitary.
He was tried and convicted of forcible rape.
They added 30 years to a life sentence with no parole.
Did you ever see the inmate subsequent to his trial? I saw him when they brought him down to Rikers.
And what, if anything, did he do when he saw you? He winked.
Did Officer Bennett, at any time, express a desire to kill the inmate? I was the one who wanted to kill him.
Officer Bennett wanted me to get counseling, a different job, he wanted me to do anything to put it behind me.
And at night when he would wake up and see me sitting there crying, he would get up and he would sit with me and he would hold me till I would fall asleep again.
I have no further questions.
JACK: Did you kill Rafael Alejo? Yes, I did.
How did you kill him? I stabbed him in the chest with a shank.
How did you obtain the shank? Officer Bennett gave it to me the night before, when he asked me to kill Alejo.
Are you in the habit of killing people because you're asked to? No, I am not.
Why did you do it this time? Officer Bennett said he'd have my son transferred to the correctional facility at Hudson, which I felt was a safer environment than where he is currently.
Since Alejo was confined to his cell in a segregated housing unit, how were you supposed to gain access to him? Alejo would be in a hallway when he was being transferred to court.
Officer Bennett would take me down the same hallway and create a diversion.
JACK: Is that, in fact, what happened? Yes, it is.
Had it not been for the defendant, could you have known that Alejo was present at Rikers? No.
Had it not been for what the defendant agreed to do on behalf of your son, would you have killed Mr.
Alejo? No.
Nothing further.
You and Rafael Alejo were imprisoned at Sing Sing at the same time, were you not? Yes.
Isn't it a fact that during that time, you had an altercation with Alejo and threatened his life? Yes.
And when you got out of solitary, was Alejo still at Sing Sing? No.
So, Rikers island was your first opportunity to make good on your threat, wasn't it? I wasn't looking for an opportunity to make good on my threat.
Why were you incarcerated at Sing Sing, Mr.
Larson? Objection.
I think the jury is entitled to know the background of the witness, Your Honor.
I'll allow it.
I killed my wife.
How'd you do that? I stabbed her.
And on the very same day that you stabbed Mr.
Alejo to death, you also stabbed an undercover police officer named Hector Diaz, isn't that right? He got between myself and Alejo.
It was unavoidable.
So it wasn't per Mr.
Bennett's request? No.
You threw in a freebie.
JACK: Objection.
JUDGE: Sustained.
I have no further questions.
Redirect, Your Honor.
Did you tell Officer Bennett that you had had a prior altercation with Rafael Alejo? He knew.
He said if, for some reason I got caught, it would look like a beef between inmates.
Did he give you any assurances in the event that occurred? He said he'd stick me in the arm with a shank, then plant it on Alejo to make it look like self-defense.
Is that, in fact, what he did? Yes, it is.
You wouldn't last one shift at Rikers.
No one's saying we would.
Forget a shift.
I'd like to see you make it through lunch.
Take one tier of prisoners down to the mess hall and get them back into their cells without getting stabbed or having a riot start.
This probably isn't a conversation we should be having here.
And when I hear some prissy son of a bitch stand in judgment about what we should and should not do, it makes me want to put him in a cell with one of my 250-pound CPSU all-stars.
I'd go home, have a hot meal, get a good night's sleep, and come back in the morning to watch them mop.
I'll take the next one.
GRANICK: What kind of an officer is Pete Bennett, Captain Webber? The kind you want to have work for you.
He keeps his cool, knows how to assert his authority, dead-on dependable.
Have you ever known Officer Bennett to pit one inmate against one another or use one inmate to take revenge on another? Objection.
JUDGE: Sustained.
A commendation was issued to Officer Bennett, on March 4, 1999.
Could you tell the court what that was for? We had a disturbance in mod four, upper.
And Pete, Officer Bennett, risked his life to rescue an inmate who was being attacked by gang members.
Thank you, sir.
No further questions.
Captain Webber, you and several other corrections officers have testified that Mr.
Bennett was a dedicated, conscientious, competent officer.
That's right.
Yet, his personnel file shows none of which he was ever disciplined for.
Making complaints is what inmates do, Mr.
It's their recreation.
And by the way, 27 is nothin'.
On July 7 of this year, was Officer Bennett involved in an incident with an inmate named Caldwell? Yeah.
He pulled Caldwell off another inmate.
Did Officer Bennett strike Caldwell with his baton? Whatever he did was not considered excessive.
People's four, Your Honor.
How long was inmate Caldwell in the infirmary following this incident? Two weeks.
Nothing further.
GRANICK: Officer Bennett, why did you become a corrections officer? I'd like to say I had some noble purpose in mind.
What it was, I was just out of the military and lookin' for a secure job.
And the Department of Corrections was hiring.
That's how you got in.
What made you stay there? I got to like it.
I got to thinking that, uh, decent people deserve a barrier between themselves and the criminals who prey on them.
I liked that I was part of that barrier.
Have you ever struck an inmate? Yes, sir.
When I've been attacked, or another officer or inmate has been attacked, I've had to respond.
Sometimes that meant responding with force.
Now, quite a bit has been made of your reaction to Mr.
Alejo's rape of Officer Donahue.
Maybe you could tell us how you felt about that.
It's hard to put into words what I felt.
To see someone you love have her life changed, and not because of anything she did, but because of something that was done to her.
And for no reason other than this guy just felt like doing it.
Have you ever thought of killing Rafael Alejo? Of course I did.
Anyone close to a rape victim would like nothing better than to get their hands on the rapist.
Well, you were working at Attica while he was still a prisoner there, why didn't you kill him there? I wouldn't have wanted to jeopardize my job, my pension.
I didn't want to go to jail.
And even if I could've gotten away with it, I wouldn't have.
I've been around a lot of killers.
It's just not something I could ever bring myself to do.
Did you ask Judd Larson to kill Rafael Alejo? I did not.
Did you give him a weapon? I did not.
Did you create a diversion, so that he'd have an opportunity to kill Rafael Alejo? I did not.
Thank you, Officer Bennett.
Did you have any conversation with Judd Larson while he was at Rikers? BENNETT: We talked about the Mets.
He complained about having to share a cell, that was about it.
Larson didn't tell you about his concern for his son? No.
The name Rafael Alejo never came up? Did not.
You did escort Mr.
Larson from the segregation unit to the visit room, did you not? Yes, I did.
No doubt you searched him before you left the segregation unit.
I did.
And obviously you did not recover any weapon.
How do you imagine Larson managed to have a weapon on him by the time he ran into Alejo? My guess is someone passed it to him.
You didn't see someone pass it to him? If I did, I would've done something about it.
Nor did you recover any weapon from him after the fact.
As I told my supervisor, I patted Mr.
Larson down.
I did not strip search him.
At the time, I thought it was more important to get him out of the area and locked down in his cell.
So, Mr.
Larson was lying.
Yeah, he is.
And the testimony that we heard about you creating a diversion that allowed Larson to get to Alejo, that was a lie.
Yes, it was.
You requested to escort Larson, did you not, Officer Bennett? I wouldn't call it a request.
Officer McNaught was busy with something and I offered to take care of it.
That kind of thing happens a dozen times a day.
You still seeing Officer Donahue? Yes, I am.
Any plans for the future? Objection.
JUDGE: I'll allow it.
As soon as our divorces are final, we plan to get married.
Would you say that her being raped has taken atoll on your relationship? Officer Donahue was dealing with it.
I'd like to think that I was helping her to deal with it.
This is the rest of your lives we're talking about.
You and Officer Donahue retire, you put the stink of prisons behind you, didn't you want to put Rafael Alejo behind you as well? Yes! Of course I did! (SIGHS) For 17 years I've been locked up with these mutts! After 17 years, wasn't it worth the life of one of them to get a little closure? To not have to wake up in the middle of the night and see the woman you love sitting up crying? Your Honor, this I believe it's wrong to take the life of another human being, sir.
I wouldn't do that under any circumstances.
JACK: The evidence means nothing.
The jury'll ignore everything and just compare Bennett to Alejo.
Guess who comes up short.
Well, I could say that the jury is duty-bound not to ignore everything.
Yeah, you could.
I think we're whipped.
GRANICK: Here's what we have, ladies and gentlemen.
On one side, Peter Bennett, a dedicated and experienced corrections officer, a man who has spent his career safeguarding you and your families from the worst society has to offer.
On the other side, Judd Larson, one of the very worst.
A man who murdered his wife by stabbing her to death, murdered a man in a bar fight by stabbing him to death and murdered Rafael Alejo by stabbing him to death as well.
This convicted murderer has said that he never would have killed his latest victim had not Officer Bennett asked him to.
Now, if you have the slightest notion that the good Mr.
Larson might be telling the truth, remind yourselves that his testimony is bought and paid for, compliments of the District Attorney, with a sweetheart plea bargain and a transfer for Mr.
Larson's convict son.
Now, who are you gonna believe? Because if you strip Judd Larson from the People's case, they've got nothing.
Maybe you should dock Officer Bennett a couple of vacation days for shortcutting regulation procedures, because that's all that the prosecution has proven.
My recommendation? Send him back to his job and put a medal on his chest.
Thank you.
I'm not gonna stand here and defend Judd Larson, or for that matter, Rafael Alejo.
If the character of either one of them is what you base your verdict on, we've all been wasting our time here.
We should have, as Mr.
Granick suggested, pinned a medal on the defendant and called it a day.
The problem is, if we do that, we're not doing our job.
We're disregarding our oath because it's easy.
Because it's hard to punish someone who's avenging a rape, even though this was not a crime committed in the heat of passion, but planned and calculated over time.
Even though it's our job to make the punishment fit the crime and not the nature of the victim.
When I say Judd Larson should be believed, it's not because he's a good guy.
It's because his testimony is corroborated by every shred of evidence we've presented here.
Just as it's corroborated by what every one of you knows.
The defendant wanted Rafael Alejo dead.
Granick suggests Mr.
Alejo's life is not worth caring about, let alone sending someone to prison over, but he's wrong.
If you allow the rule of law to stop at the wall of a prison, you've allowed it to stop everywhere.
The streets of New York will be no better than the cell blocks of Rikers.
Madam Foreperson, has the jury reached a verdict? Yes, Your Honor.
As to the sole count of the indictment, the jury finds the defendant, Peter Bennett, not guilty.
Bennett? All packed up and headed for central files.
File it under jury nullification.
Texas law in Manhattan.
They tried the victim.
And made a badge for license to kill.