Law & Order (1990) s11e06 Episode Script

Burn Baby Burn

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.
Yo, you gonna let Jaycee chill in your crib? Say, he's got no other place to go.
Why don't he go home? His moms don't let him miss school, B.
Oh, but it's all right with you, though.
What am I, the principal? Damn! Yo, he a cop! SERGEANT BOWERS: His name is Jake Kearsey.
Detective second grade.
He worked out of our robbery squad.
You knew him? I had a few beers with him.
Wife and two kids up in Rockland.
ED: How old? Girl's 14,15.
Son's a few years younger.
You check the weapon? Yeah, two rounds missing from the clip.
We found the spent shells in the hallway.
And entry craters in the plaster here.
ED: Any of the neighbors home? They must be at work.
BRISCOE: Which of your guys got here first? Muniz and Nelson.
They're with the two kids who called it in.
The apartment door was like this when they got here? BOWERS: No, it was locked When they saw Jake on the floor they busted it in.
Whoever was in there is in the wind.
Unless the shooter caught Kearsey's fire.
You know what, check the local E.
's and get the borough to broadcast an alarm on reported gunshot victims.
What happened up here, fellas? I dunno.
We was leaving my apartment to go to work.
Then we just seen him like that.
But we called 9-1-1 right away, though.
You both live here? Just me.
So what time did you get here? Like around, like 8:30.
You heard any shots? KENNY: We had the music up real loud.
Who lives in that apartment? Some lady.
She just moved in.
Alone? KENNY: Far as I know.
I just got the page.
Excuse me, fellas.
Any idea how it went down? No.
Not yet.
Kearsey get any rounds off? Yeah, two.
Hopefully one of them's in the killer.
It's okay we're in here? Yeah.
The warrant's on the way.
Lennie, there's women's clothes in the closets and all the drawers.
(CHUCKLES) I don't suppose she wears a man's 11.
Uh, would you bag these in case Cinderella shows up? Got something here.
Bullet wipe on the window frame.
Slug's still in there.
So it's straight shot to the hallway.
Pretty sure it's a 9mm.
There's number two.
Tommie Cannizaro, the 3-6.
My partner, Detective Hart.
Me and Jake, we went to the academy together.
I'm sorry about your buddy.
Yeah, me too.
We thought maybe you needed a hand tossing the place or something.
ED: It's actually a little tight up here.
The bosses show up, see too many people, we're gonna catch heat.
All right.
No recent gunshot victims at the local hospital.
But Kearsey's partner's downstairs.
We got notification on a robbery we worked about a year ago.
The A.
wanted one of us up on the stand first thing this morning.
I lost the coin toss.
So your partner didn't go to court? No, he was gonna run down the D.
's next witness, uh, a guy named Albert Rosa, bring him to One Hogan.
This Rosa, he lived here? No.
Other side of town.
East 122nd.
So what was your partner doing over here on St.
Nicholas Avenue? I wish I knew.
He should have been Uptown.
His wife know? I'm on my way up to their house.
Do you mind joining me? That's a good idea.
Jake calls tails, that's me on that gurney.
The apartment's rented to a Selina Watts.
Moved in about two months ago.
VAN BUREN: That name register with your robbery case? No.
I never heard of her.
Nobody we canvassed in the building knew much about her.
Anybody notice a boyfriend? No, and apparently Watts wasn't into small talk.
She kept regular hours.
Probably a nine-to-fiver.
Nobody knew where.
Well, find out how Kearsey got to her door from East 122nd Street.
Come on.
The detective was here first thing this morning.
Buzzed me, asked me where Mr.
Rosa was.
What'd you tell him? That Mr.
Rosa left Monday night with an overnight bag.
Hadn't seen him since.
He say when he was coming back? Nope.
Just asked me to hold his mail.
Oh, here's the D.
's trial subpoena.
Oh, looks like he was shirking his civic duty.
Did Mr.
Rosa mention a robbery case? Uh.
Did you tell the detective where he'd be? Well, I told him where he worked.
Um, Ajax Transmissions.
The detective was here a few hours ago.
What happened, you lost him? Did he ask you about Albert Rosa? And I told him Albert called yesterday, said he needed a few personal days.
Did the detective talk to anybody else here? Hey, Louie, that detective was here ask you about Albert? Yeah.
What did you tell him? Nothin'.
I mean, I told him where he was.
BRISCOE: And where was that? At his cousin's place.
I'm supposed to bring his check over there tomorrow.
It's 35 St.
Nicholas Avenue.
Did you give Detective Kearsey the cousin's name? No, but Albert wrote it down for me.
Selina Watts? Maria Santiago.
You ever done this before? Yeah, twice.
Two times too many.
Ronnie, what are you doing up here? Annie.
Oh, my God.
Uh Where's Jake? Annie.
Oh, Ronnie, just tell me.
I'm sorry.
Oh, God! Your husband was shot this morning in the line of duty, Mrs.
I should have been been there for him.
Is there anyone we can call for you? (SOBBING) I don't know.
I'm gonna stay here.
Call me if anything breaks.
This idiot gave Kearsey the wrong address, he winds up getting killed.
We're ruling out ambush? Aw, the kid gave himself up way too easy.
I gotta figure wrong time, wrong place.
What do we have on the woman who rents the apartment? We couldn't locate her landlord, so she's either at work someplace, or she took off.
Get Byrne to run her name with BCI.
How about our size 11? Well, Latent's got a stack of prints to read.
Well, tell them to read faster.
The guys at the 3-6 are about to collar our shooter.
CANNIZARO: One of my snitches puts him in the backroom in the bar around the corner.
You got a name? Yeah, Junior.
18-year-old black male, 5'8", wears a goatee.
Where'd your snitch get this information? He knows a surgical nurse.
Dressed a minor bullet wound in his apartment he says belongs to the shooter.
Who called the local news? They have scanners.
You didn't put it on division radio? Hey, I'm sorry.
I have more important things to worry about.
Like are we gonna lose this guy or not.
Now you wanna stand here and have this conversation or go grab him up? CANNIZARO: Okay, everybody up! Everybody, hands on the bar! Up! What's going on here? Hands on the bar.
Come on, get 'em up! Come on, pops, move it.
Hey, hey, hey.
There's no need.
There's no need.
Where's Junior? There's nobody named Junior here.
Who's in the back room? There's nothing up there but some boxes.
You lying to us, I'm gonna kick your black ass! Hey! Take the door.
It's clear.
It's a storage closet.
Yo, you put your hands on an old man like that again, black or white, you and me are gonna have a problem.
Oh, that's funny.
'Cause I was gonna say to you, if you ever interfere with me again, in the middle of an operation, we're gonna have a big problem.
And I'm gonna solve it.
Do it now.
Oh, aren't you a big shot! What, are you playing Al Sharpton in front of the "brothers"? Hey, man, I'll take you anytime, anywhere.
Oh, like we don't know who'll wind up all jammed up out of that.
It's certainly not the brother.
You say brother like that one more time, I swear to God, I'm a stomp your ass into the pavement.
Whose side is your partner on, Lennie? Same side I'm on, all right? Is our perp in there? No.
Any problems? No, we're fine.
You can read it in my report.
What am I supposed to know here? Well, Officer Cannizaro could have used a little more discretion in the bar.
You two back to your precinct.
We've got work to do.
DETECTIVE TINLEY: Word is you have a suspect? We thought we did.
So now, I have to go back to the mayor and tell him you don't? Right.
Your people know the importance of keeping City Hall appraised.
They do? Sir, we just found out it was a false alarm.
Otherwise, we would have saved you the trip.
Uh, any leads on the woman in the apartment? We're making progress.
Joe, I have to get back.
I'll tell the mayor the investigation's proceeding.
Gimme something soon, Anita.
Fallout from the bar and grill? What do you have? Byrne pulled a sheet on the woman in 3-D.
Selina Watts, 29 years old, formerly of Brooklyn.
We got a car in the Priors? One recent arrest for fraud.
Still pending.
All right, find the A.
on her case.
We arrested Selina Watts about three weeks ago.
She's an administrator at the Riverside Action Project.
It's an eviction prevention program up in Harlem.
She dipping into the till? No, we found some irregularities in their intake process.
Irregularities? Tenants enrolled in the program that aren't eligible.
Hmm, that doesn't sound to serious.
Well, we charged Watts hoping she'd flip on the higher-ups.
The place is run by an activist named Lateef Miller.
Used to be Bobby Miller.
The former Black Panther? One and the same.
Yeah, he and his pals robbed some banks upstate, back in the '60s.
They also ran a free breakfast program up in Harlem.
So, how long's Robin Hood been running this Riverside Action Project? The board of directors hired him about five years ago.
He's been successful in getting some pretty big grants.
He turned the project into a real force in the neighborhood.
You got anything on Miller? No.
Watts isn't cooperating.
Her lawyer insists they're not doing anything illegal.
I'm sure she's told him he's under investigation.
Watts is still working for him at Riverside.
Selina Watts? Can I help you? I'm Detective Green.
This is Detective Briscoe.
We just need to ask you a couple of questions.
First off, where were you today at 9:15? Why? There was a detective shot in your building this morning.
I don't know anything about that.
What time did you leave for work? What, am I a suspect? It's just a simple question, Miss Watts.
And I have a simple answer.
I don't have to account for my whereabouts to you or anybody else.
What can you tell us about Lateef Miller? Not a damn thing.
ED: He is your boss, isn't he? Right.
He's my boss.
Well, where is he now? No idea.
Somebody at your apartment was involved in that shooting.
How do you know that? ED: There was fresh bullet holes inside.
You went inside my apartment? Who gave you the right to do that? I don't think you're seeing the big picture here.
We're gonna have to ask you to come with us, Miss Watts.
Well, you can forget about it.
'Cause I'm not going anywhere with you.
We're gonna have to place you under arrest.
For what? Criminal possession of a handgun.
I don't have a handgun.
You had one at your apartment.
Who's size 11's were in your living room? That is none of your business.
There was a dead cop outside your door.
I don't know anything about that.
The shots came from inside your apartment.
I don't know anything about that either.
Including, I don't know it's true.
Did Lateef Miller spend the night with you? That for sure is none of your business.
Look, if you're not gonna help us out here, Miss Watts, we have three fraud counts pending we could use against you.
Not to mention, accessory after the fact to murder.
I've got nothing to do with that.
Look, all you have to do to walk out of here is tell us about Lateef.
Then I guess I ain't gonna be walking out of here, 'cause I don't know what you're talkin' about.
STRAUS: So you have an unexplained shooting and your only suspect just happens to be Lateef Miller? Latent lifted four of his prints from inside the apartment.
So, how do we know he wasn't there last Sunday for tea and crumpets? If you're jumping to conclusions because Miller was a Panther He was under investigation by the D.
's Frauds Bureau.
So he shoots a cop? Miller's dropped off the radar and Watts is covering for him.
It's just too big of a coincidence.
You'd better be right.
Race relations in this city what they are, the Department can't afford another black eye.
They're fully aware of that.
So do we pick him up or not? Yeah, pick him up.
And make sure Miller's in one piece when you bring him in.
Last known for Lateef Miller, So what are we waiting for? A warrant.
We got cars on his building and the R.
Green and I will take ESU into his apartment as soon as the paperwork gets here.
What do you have on the gun? Ballistics makes the murder weapon a Glock 9mm.
It's their new "compensated" model.
You've all see it.
It has vents on the slide to reduce recoil.
All right, people, keep working your eyes and ears on the street and be ready to move as soon as we see what turns up in Miller's apartment, all right? Police.
Freeze! BOY: What are you doing? What are you What are you doing? Up against the wall.
It's clear.
All right, he's a kid.
We're looking for Lateef Miller.
You just can't break down our door.
We got a no-knock warrant.
Can I see it? Yeah.
BRISCOE: Do you know Lateef Miller? Lateef Miller's our father.
"Murder in the First Degree"? He didn't kill anybody.
Do you know where your father was the night before last? Here.
We don't have to answer any questions.
ED: You're right.
You don't.
Our father warned us about people like you.
Uh, I'll take that back if you're done.
Or I'll wind up like my cousin? What happened to your cousin? He got shot by a cop like you.
Anything turn up at Miller's apartment? Nope.
Nothing but his two scared kids.
The place was clean.
Will you follow up at the R.
office? We made visits to the staff.
No Lateef Miller.
No love from the staff or the community.
Well, no one likes cops at their door.
That's not all they don't like.
Lateef's like a living legend.
You know what that makes me? Oh, I know you're not buying into that.
What do you have? I pulled some of Miller's old cases.
I figured maybe he's hooked up with one of his old radical friends.
Uh, he did a few robberies with a guy named Rolando August.
Who has a real estate business in the Bronx.
Ex-Panther makes good.
I haven't seen Lateef in 10 years.
You did time together.
That's right.
But I haven't seen him in 10 years.
A vacant apartment in one of your buildings is a great place to stash an old comrade.
I wouldn't do that.
Would you make an emergency loan? No, I wouldn't.
And I resent the accusatory tone in your voice.
Well, you kinda made that bed People change, Detective Green.
I do pretty well here for an ex-con.
I wouldn't risk it all for Lateef Miller.
I'm sure you'll understand we can't just take your word for it.
Here are my listings.
You want to bust down 200 doors, be my guest.
We finally got the IUDs for Watts.
Miller checked his answering service from her phone a half an hour before Kearsey was shot.
Great, now all we gotta do is find the guy.
Well, if we can't find Miller, maybe we can find the murder weapon.
I'm sorry, I'm late for my daily spanking at One Police Plaza.
This doesn't make much sense.
Maybe he thought Kearsey was there to take him back to jail.
You know.
I know this guy from Washington Park.
I heard of this Lateef Miller.
What did he do? You know about the cop on St.
Nicholas? Big news, man.
What you got for me? What you got for me? Same parole violation that's been hanging over your head for three years.
I'm make some inquiries.
He might be trying to sell off a state-of-the-art Glock 9mm.
The C model.
The one with flash holes on the slide.
You heard about one on the market? Tough piece to turn over.
Burner like that goes for 1,500, 1,800.
Who do you know that handles that kind of high-end merchandise? I can think of two or three guys.
MAN: Who's there? Lottery winner's payment unit.
Also know as the Police Department.
What's this? ED: Step into the hallway, Natron.
You buy a gun from Lateef Miller? I didn't buy no gun.
You know what, we're gonna wait till they get here with a warrant.
Then we're gonna go in and tear your place apart.
You got anything in there you'd rather we didn't find? What I gotta do? ED: Where's Lateef? I don't know.
BRISCOE: Call for the warrant.
Look, Lateef's a Muslim, right? All Muslims Friday afternoons are at jum'ah.
What's jum'ah? It's prayer.
Where? At the mosque.
Which mosque? BRISCOE: Our source said Miller's been taking his meals at the mosque the past two days, sleeping there.
Any muscle in there? He doesn't think so.
So, we wait for ESU? No, that'll bring out the whole neighborhood.
You know what? I'm going in.
What, you gonna go in the back? No.
I'm gonna come out the back.
VAN BUREN: You sure you want to do it this way? You want a riot on your hands? (GREETING IN ARABIC) (RESPONDING IN ARABIC) Are you Muslim? No, I'm a cop.
I need to talk to Lateef Miller.
Now you know you don't belong here, brother.
Look, man, I know, but it's either me or an ESU team with assault rifles and tear gas.
We don't need that.
They're inside making salat.
I won't interrupt.
I swear.
Miller, please don't make us disrespect your house of worship.
You already have.
I need you to come with me.
I wanna go out the front.
The back is better.
So you can shoot me? If they shoot you, their gonna have to shoot me, too.
I'll take it from here.
There's gonna be press at the house.
You okay with doing the walk-out? Uh Lennie could go alone.
No, I'll do it.
All right.
"People v.
Lateef Miller.
Murder in the First Degree.
" (PEOPLE EXCLAIMING) (GAVEL POUNDING) If I hear another word from the gallery, I'm going to clear the courtroom.
(GAVEL POUNDING) How does the defendant plead? My client has a statement, Your Honor.
Given that I'm here as a political prisoner MAN: Tell 'em, brother.
the Geneva Convention doesn't afford this court jurisdiction.
(GAVEL POUNDING) That's enough.
Miller, I'm entering a plea of "not guilty.
" CARMICHAEL: People request remand, Your Honor.
Miller killed a police officer and then fled the scene in order to avoid capture.
He was praying in a mosque, Your Honor.
He's a pillar of his community.
The People are considering the death penalty.
Defendant is remanded.
Move on to motion.
I had to duck out the back exit on Baxter Street to avoid the mob.
If you think the arraignment was a circus, wait for the trial.
Who's representing him? CARMICHAEL: Leon Chiles.
How's our case? We've had better.
The shot that killed Kearsey came from Miller's girlfriend's apartment.
We can put Miller inside.
Any witnesses, a gun? Neither one.
Any chance for a deal? You make a deal for manslaughter, you break faith with every cop in the city.
Yeah, but was it manslaughter? No, I don't believe it was.
Still, you prosecute for homicide, we could get accused of racism.
In other words we can't win.
JACK: Right.
Okay, well, let's call it for what it is.
Let's prosecute for homicide.
A woman named Selina Watts lives in 3-D.
Our Latent Print Unit lifted four fingerprints belonging to Lateef Miller from her apartment, and we also found a pair of shoes his size in her hallway.
Was there anything that connected Mr.
Miller to Ms.
Watts' apartment on the morning of the incident? ED: When we subpoenaed Watts' telephone record, there was a phone call from her apartment to the defendant's answering service the 9-1-1 call.
Could anybody do this? They would have to have Mr.
Miller's private pin code, 4-2-4-4-8.
birthday isn't it? I believe it is, yes.
It's fairly common, is it not, to use one's birthday for one's pin code? It may be, I don't really know.
But wouldn't anyone who knew Mr.
Miller's birthday have a good chance of accessing his messages? ED: Assuming they also had his phone number.
And I take it the police department has access to both of those pieces of information.
When your lab ran all the prints found in Selina Watts' apartment, how many other individuals were there beside Mr.
Miller? I believe there were 14.
But only one belonging to a former Black Panther, right, Detective? Right.
Oh, um, how many other individuals were there who had size 11 feet? We didn't run their shoe sizes.
I was Jake Kearsey's partner for 18 months.
I've known him and his family for seven years.
JACK: Which family members in particular? His wife, Anne, and his children, Julie and Brian.
On the day Detective Kearsey was killed what happened? Oh, while Jake was running down a witness, somebody gave him the wrong address.
JACK: Did the case you and Detective Kearsey were working on have anything to do with Lateef Miller? Nothing whatsoever.
In the time that you worked with him, did Detective Kearsey ever mention Lateef Miller in particular or the Black Panther Party in general? No, he did not.
Your, uh, partner didn't live in New York City, did he? No, he lived up in Rockland County.
He was a member of the Emerald Society? Objection.
I'm laying the foundation to establish an alternate reason for Detective Kearsey's visit.
Yeah, the Emerald Society.
Which is a secret, all-white clique within the police department? It's a social club for Irish cops.
A fraternal organization.
But the only brothers this fraternal organization are white.
JUDGE: Move along, Mr.
Isn't it a fact that Detective Kearsey belonged to a motorcycle gang called the White Knights? Yeah.
It's a group of overweight, middle-aged guys who like to ride bikes on Sundays.
But did not the son of one of the members of this gang get arrested for scrawling "KKK" on the wall of his high school? Objection.
Move to strike.
The question is stricken.
Did Detective Kearsey have six excessive force complaints filed against him at CCRB, five by African-Americans? The ones I know about were dismissed.
What about the one that was sustained where he put a young black man in a choke hold that sent him to the hospital? That guy was a PCP freak resisting arrest.
How many white PCP freaks did your partner overpower during his career? Nothing more.
McCoy, can't you do something about that? The judge is giving him some leeway, Mrs.
Leeway? He's making him look like Jake had it coming.
Attacking the victim will probably backfire.
Well, what if it doesn't? From where we sit, your case isn't going in all that great.
These cheap shots won't make any difference.
Well, they make a difference to me.
My husband is not on trial here.
JACK: I now it's difficult, Mrs.
You'll have to excuse us.
We have a witness to prep.
I didn't come this way to let this guy go.
What are you thinking? Well, nobody saw Lateef between the crime scene and the mosque? Yeah, but we struck out with the cab drivers and the bus companies.
Maybe we were looking for the wrong address.
You're Lateef Miller, you just gunned down a cop, who do you go see? A lawyer.
I can't find this thing.
Maybe tomorrow, guys, it's been a crazy day here.
Hey, don't tell us about crazy.
We've been running around looking at trip sheets for the last eight hours.
Wait a minute I think I got it.
Let me see that.
Lennie, look at this.
Morning of the shooting, drop off, 1840 Broadway.
It's Leon Chiles' law office.
Mmm-hmm, the driver's Jean Marchier.
This is my trip sheet.
But I don't remember every fare from that day.
Well, how come you filed it a week late? I share my car with two other drivers.
I don't go into the office that much.
Wait, hold up.
Hold up.
Is this the guy you picked up in front of 33 St.
Nicholas? Yes.
Yes, it is.
I remember he came out of the building and he hailed me.
I remember he was a little bit upset.
So after your officers broke down Selina Watts' door, they were in the apartment alone, without supervision? I was on the way.
Which gave them the opportunity to tamper with the crime scene.
Did it not? Objection.
JUDGE: Approach.
He needs a good faith basis to pose these kinds of questions.
I've given you some latitude, Mr.
My patience is running thin.
(DOOR OPENS) Could I have a moment, Judge? (INAUDIBLE) (INAUDIBLE) The People would like to add a witness to our witness list.
A little late, aren't you? He saw the defendant exit the scene of the crime at the time of the murder.
He drove from there to Mr.
Chiles' office.
I'll allow it.
You wanna continue your cross, Mr.
Chiles? I'll withdraw my objection.
That won't be necessary.
The defendant will be pleading self-defense.
LEWIN: So now Miller's asserting a justification defense? Chiles left his options open.
He didn't lock himself into anything inconsistent with that defense.
Well, is there any reason to think that Detective Kearsey was the aggressor? CARMICHAEL: Well, it's subjective.
If Miller had reason to believe it, then he was entitled to use deadly force.
Do we have any evidence to refute the self-defense claim? The ballistics analysis is equivocal.
Both men were standing when the shots were fired.
He'll claim the officer shot first.
I can't see it.
Detective Kearsey went to that apartment looking for a witness.
Yeah, except they've already set the table by insinuating Kearsey's a racist.
I think this jury might buy it.
Oh, he's hitching his wagon to the anti-police sentiment in the city.
JACK: And that's just the beginning.
What evidence are you seeking to admit, Mr.
Chiles? Evidence of police violence against African-Americans.
The Abner Louima assault.
The Amadou Diallo murder.
The police in that case were acquitted.
(CHUCKLES) Not in my client's neighborhood.
The Michael Stewart murder, Eleanor Bumpurs, Rodney King in LA, the Fred Hampton assassination in Oakland.
Three thousand miles away.
And some of these incidents happened over 30 years ago.
And they all worked to shape Mr.
Miller's distrust of the police.
They are all relevant to establish his state of mind.
JACK: I have my own list, Judge.
Statements made by Mr.
Miller, inciting his followers to kill police officers.
A Black Panther newsletter from July 1969, in which Mr.
Miller is quoted as saying, "When the pigs knock on your door, brothers, it's them or you.
"The only way to stop oppression in Amerika," spelled with a "K," "is with a sawed-off Colorful language for colorful times.
It never meant to be taken literally.
He can argue that to the jury.
It's an attack on my client's character.
He put his client's character in issue.
That's true, Mr.
I also plan to cross-examine Mr.
Miller about improprieties at the Riverside Action Center.
He was never charged with that.
You two want a free-for-all? Fine.
Let the jury sort it all out.
(BANGS GAVEL) (INAUDIBLE) I first met Lateef Miller back in August 1967, at City College.
We were recruiters for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
How did the two of you get involved with the Black Panther Party? The Committee wasn't speaking to the times by the mid-'60s.
After Martin and Malcolm were killed, there was a lot of pent-up anger on the streets.
More militant brothers like me and Lateef gravitated toward the Panthers.
What was the Panthers' experience with the police in those days? They hated us.
And we hated them.
How did that police hatred manifest itself? There was constant, day-to-day harassment of our people on the streets.
Infiltration of our meetings by police operatives.
The FBI led a campaign of disinformation against us.
Several brothers were outright murdered in so-called police raids.
What impact did these events have on you? Well, they left me pretty cynical about the police.
Even after 30 years? Not much has changed.
You recruit a bunch of white high school kids from up in New Paltz to come down and keep order in the hood, that's how you wind up with 41 shots on some poor black guy coming home from work.
Thank you.
Do the police in your neighborhood know you were once with the Panthers, Mr.
August? Some do.
Any one of them ever take a shot at you? No.
They ever single you out for persecution or harassment because of your past affiliation? I know that when a white cop looks at me, he doesn't see a businessman.
He sees a potential criminal.
The question was whether you were singled out for your past affiliation? Not to my knowledge.
Prior to this trial, when was the last time you spoke to Lateef Miller? I couldn't give you a precise figure, Mr.
Six months, or a year? Couldn't tell you.
Didn't you tell the investigating police that it had been ten years since you had spoken or seen Lateef Miller? It's possible that I did.
Was that because you no longer wanted to associate with a person who was still committed to violence? I promise you, sir, his fear of cops is my fear of cops.
And his anger is my anger.
Every time a police siren pulls up behind me, I still get a feeling in my gut they're gonna pull over and mess with me.
Does that mean that you could see yourself shooting a cop who came to your door? It means I'm tired of being messed with.
A week before I was arrested, my 17-year-old nephew was shot by the police in Newark.
What were the circumstances? They said he robbed a woman's jewelry.
And he was "evading apprehension.
" Only they didn't find any jewelry on him.
So the best we can figure, he ran because he had a joint in his pocket.
What happened to your nephew? He's in a wheelchair.
They say he may never walk again.
Now I'm gonna bring your attention to the day in question.
Can you tell the jury what happened? I slept over at Selina's that night, on the couch.
I do that sometimes when we work late.
After our morning prayers, she went to work.
I made some phone calls.
And then there was aloud banging on the door.
What did you do? I said, "What is it?" Did you get a response? He said, "Open the door.
" I said again, I said, "Who is it?" And he said, "Open the door.
" What happened next? Well, I went into the bedroom and I got a gun that Selina keeps for protection.
Why did you do that? Well, there was this guy.
He was banging on the door.
He was cursing.
He was abusive.
So then I opened the door.
And he was standing there with a pistol in his hands.
Did he identify himself? At that time, yes.
What did you do with your gun? Well, I had it by my side, by my leg.
And then he looked at me.
And I could see he recognized me.
Move to strike.
JUDGE: Last part of the answer is stricken.
When you looked into that detective's eyes, what did you observe? I could see a look come over his face.
I'd seen that look before.
He raised his gun, and he pointed it at me.
I stepped away.
And I raised my gun and pointed it at him.
It was reflex.
And then we both started shooting.
You both started shooting at the same time? Yes.
Then he got hit.
And I went over and I put my fingers on his neck to try to feel a pulse.
But he was dead.
God, I panicked.
I knew I couldn't stay there.
Because nobody would believe me.
Now, Mr.
Miller, from the time that you opened the door to the time that you started shooting, how much time had elapsed? Oh, it was fast.
It was real fast.
It was maybe a second or two at the most.
Why did you shoot him, Mr.
Miller? I was defending myself.
It was either him or me.
No further questions.
You were convicted on multiple counts of armed robbery in 1971? It was an act of civil disobedience.
Getting compensation for centuries of repression.
So you think what you did was right? It was justified by the times.
And when you called on your supporters to murder police officers in the late '60s, that was justified? I've done positive things in this city for 15 years.
For 15 years, Mr.
You're aware that the District Attorney is investigating the Riverside Action Project for fraud? There is no fraud.
The government places restrictions on our services.
And sometimes we have to push the envelope in order to keep families in their apartments.
Selina Watts told you the D.
's office was targeting you.
So for all you knew, Detective Kearsey had come to her apartment on that matter? But he wasn't from Frauds, was he, Mr.
McCoy? And he never said he was.
And he never identified himself as a police officer while the door was closed? When the banging started I was in the bedroom.
Now if he said anything at all, I didn't hear it.
Oh, and nevertheless, you chose to answer the door with an illegal gun in your hand? There was a maniac trying to break down the door.
When you opened the door, he pointed his gun at you? Yes.
Because he saw a gun in your hand? No.
Because he recognized me.
I could see by the way he looked at me.
A look you say you'd seen before, Mr.
What was It? It was hate, Mr.
Isn't it a fact, it was fear? You heard about him.
He was a racist.
Even if he was, you couldn't have known anything about that at the time.
I could see it in his eyes.
You were angry because of your nephew? Angry that he might have to Yes spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair? How would you feel? Isn't it a fact that you took out your anger on Detective Kearsey? No.
I reacted.
You overreacted because he was a police officer and because he was white.
I had to make a judgment call in a split second.
You made the same kind of racial assumption that you charge the police with? It's my life's experience.
So your own racism justified this killing.
Is that what you're saying? No, Mr.
You're twisting my words.
You're twisting the truth.
Who's truth, Mr.
Miller? Objection.
Nothing further.
I think you have a very good picture of what the world looks like to Lateef Miller.
A man whose suspicions of the police was nurtured by the racism that existed, and still exists in this country.
A worldview shaped by the political foment of the '60s, and then crystallized by current events, a never-ending list of African-Americans that have been attacked or murdered by white police officers.
And then personalized by a family tragedy that occurred a few days before the incident.
Lateef Miller believed in his heart of hearts that that when he shot Detective Kearsey, that he was defending his life.
That makes him not guilty of all charges.
Now when you go to the jury room, I ask you not to be swayed by the sympathy that you will naturally feel for the victim and his family.
I ask you, and the law requires that you put yourself in Lateef Miller's shoes.
If you are Lateef Miller and a police officer shows up at your door with hatred in his eyes, and pointing a gun at you, what goes through your head? "Defend myself.
" Thank you.
Jake Kearsey and Lateef Miller didn't go out on the morning in question to have a gun battle.
One thing we'll never know for sure is what set off the explosion that left Detective Kearsey dead.
The defendant has plausible explanations for everything that happened, but you also have the luxury of placing those explanations in context.
Lateef Miller promoted cop-killing 30 years ago.
He admitted dishonesty in his job and his claim of self-defense is belied by his own actions.
He ran from the crime scene, hid from the police.
When he was captured he proclaimed his innocence.
And now that he's facing the death penalty it's not "I didn't kill him.
" It's "I had to kill him.
" So, ask yourselves, if Detective Kearsey were here to give his side of the story, would it look anything like Lateef Miller's? The defense urges you to see the world through Lateef Miller's eyes.
Do that, ladies and gentlemen, if you wanna contaminate the truth with Mr.
Miller's anger and racial mistrust.
Acquit Mr.
Miller, if you think it fit to allow him to avoid the moral consequences of his actions by portraying himself as the victim.
The victim here is Detective Kearsey, who innocently went to the wrong apartment looking for a witness and wound up dead.
I don't doubt that Mr.
Miller has encountered racism in his life, but it's not a free pass to commit murder.
Has the jury reached a verdict, Mr.
Foreman? JURY FOREMAN: Yes we have, Your Honor.
On the count of Murder in the First Degree, how do you find? We find the defendant not guilty.
(PEOPLE APPLAUDING) You're missing the Lateef Miller Show.
Which channel? Two, four, five, seven, nine.
Glad I have cable.
Don't beat yourself up too badly over this one, Jack.
A guy shoots a New York City police officer in the line of duty, and I can't convict him.
Enough of the jury identified with his fear of cops.
Used to be fear of cops didn't justify shooting them.
Used to be a lot of things.