Law & Order (1990) s15e17 Episode Script

License to Kill

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.
Luis, you got this order wrong.
I'm not doing it.
The guy wants it with egg whites.
What do you care? I will not make bacalao guisado with egg whites.
Hey, you know, I'm sick of all of these bfanquitos coming in here with all their special requests.
Oh, no cilantro, put the ajo on the side.
Just fix it.
I'll have that for you in just a second.
Do you have any Equal? No.
Just sugar.
(CRASHING) (PEOPLE SCREAMING) DOA's a male, white, early forties.
Smashed his head on the windshield.
Dude did some serious damage.
Our friend here have a name? No ID on him.
Well, that's one citation, driving without a license.
We put a call over the air to track the registered owner.
ED: Was he talking on his cell phone? Didn't see one.
There was a male, white, late teens, in the passenger seat.
A busjust took him over to Columbia Presbyterian.
How bad is he? Pretty banged up, complained about abdominal pains.
Kept asking for his dad.
Damn, that's rough.
Any bystanders hurt? A waitress and six customers.
Three of them had to be taken out on stretchers.
One broke an arm, two got pretty cut up by flying glass.
Freaking miracle nobody else got killed.
Well, you know, it sounds like a pretty straightforward case of lousy driving.
Why call us, Sarge? Lady says she saw a another car running lights, chasing this one down the block.
ED: What do you mean, like road rage? LEONETTI: Something.
They caused a city bus to stop in its tracks.
Driver had to jam on his brakes, bounced a lot of passengers around.
Well, were any of them seriously hurt? LEONETTI: None of them needed medical attention.
Wait till they find lawyers.
After the crash, the witness says the second car hauled ass out of here.
Whatever happened tojust flipping somebody the bird? I was waiting here for the M-4 bus, and I hear these screeching tires.
I turn and I see these two cars, like racing or something.
What do you mean, "racing"? They both ran the light.
The SUV got cut off, so he tried to beat the other guy around the bus.
And he just flew into the restaurant.
What did the other car look like? It was dark green, just a regular car, like a Honda.
Was it like a Honda, or a Honda? I I I got the license.
It was definitely an "R" and a seven in there.
Maybe a seven? Oh, oh, it had one of those yellow ribbons on the back of it.
You know, "Support Our Troops.
" Definitely a dark blue Toyota sedan.
Somewhere between a royal blue and more like a midnight blue, maybe.
He almost killed a couple of kids at the intersection.
Did you see the plates? Not really.
What What did catch my eye is he had one of those, uh Yellow ribbons on the back of the car.
For the troops? Which is weird, right? I mean, usually you see them on the big SUVs.
Like maybe the troops wouldn't be over there in the first place if jerks like that weren't sucking up all the fuel.
I'm sorry, I got a thing for energy consumption.
Drives my wife crazy.
Well, I can sympathize.
Thank you.
With her, I mean.
Way too much time in the hole, this guy.
Says he saw a blue Toyota, but he won't be sure until he sees some swatches.
(CHUCKLES) Well, the woman thinks that the chase car was like a green Honda with a yellow ribbon on the back of it.
LEON ETTI: Detectives.
Well, at least they agree on something.
What you got? We just found this near the dead guy.
That's a hunting knife.
You're gonna see that gets vouchered, right? You got it.
And I'll have them tow the vehicle back to the house for an inventory.
Let's see what AIS has to say.
Looks like the sedan cut off the SUV where the skid marks converge.
Then the driver of the SUV loses control, jumps the curb, wound up in somebody's lap.
How fast do you think they were going? From the length of the skid marks and accounting for drag factors like the weight of the occupants and the nearly full tank of gas in the Explorer, I'd say about 40.
Can we get a make on the sedan's tires? Not from these skid marks.
Our witnesses' descriptions are all over the place.
The only thing that we're fairly certain about is that there was a yellow ribbon magnet attached to the back of the vehicle that got away.
We'd have an easier time finding a car without one.
Did you contact the owner? Yeah.
The Explorer is registered to Selma Flanagan.
She's 43 years old, lives upstate in Kingston.
Green's trying to contact her now.
All right.
What you got, Officer? I was finishing up the vehicle inventory.
I came across some hunting gear under the cargo cover.
The bolt-action Remington Model 700.
A fine deer rifle.
I had one just like it when I was a kid.
You hunt? Oh, yeah.
My Uncle Phil used to take us up to Door County, Wisconsin, to hunt whitetail.
Of course, I always preferred using a bow, it kind of levels the playing field.
And the deer, what kind of weapons do they use? Same as the cow.
Chamber's empty and it doesn't seem like it's been fired recently.
This hunting tag belongs to a Tommy Flanagan.
That's the same last name as the registered owner.
Well, if Green can't reach Mrs.
Flanagan, call the Ulster County PD, have them track her down and bring her to meet you at the hospital.
His name's Tommy Flanagan.
That was his hunting gear in the car.
So, where is he now? He's being prepped for surgery.
His belly was rigid when he presented, suggesting bleeding into the peritoneal cavity, so we sent him right up to the O.
Oh, so it's serious? Potentially.
He lacerated his liver, so we'll have to perform a resection, take out the damaged parts and close it back up.
If all goes well, he'll be home in a week.
His father wasn't so lucky.
When can we talk to him? He'll be in recovery all night.
ED: Doctor, do me a favor.
When he comes to, would you give us a call? Sure.
Thank you.
Flanagan? I'm Detective Fontana.
This is Detective Green.
Where's my son? Tommy's in surgery right now.
His surgeon, Dr.
Park, will fill you in.
And Tom, my husband? Unfortunately, his injuries were far more serious.
Paramedics weren't able to save him.
I'm sorry.
Oh, my God! No.
You have our deepest condolences.
(STAMMERS) Where is he? Well, are you sure you want to do this now? I need to see my husband.
Flanagan, are you ready? I guess so.
That's not Tom.
That's not my husband.
I've never seen that man before.
But this is your son's ID? Yes.
This doesn't make sense.
They were supposed to be hunting together.
ED: Where? I I don't know.
But you've got to find Tom.
Does your husband have a friend, a hunting buddy? Um, P.
They've hunted together for years.
? Tommy's in the hospital.
Is he okay? He's gonna be just fine.
Listen, we need to know where Mr.
Flanagan might be hunting.
Did you guys have a favorite spot? What's going on, Sel? P.
, please, just tell them.
Sometimes Tom and me will head out to Sullivan County, if we're making a couple days of it.
Where would you go for the day? Antler Creek State Park.
About 20 miles north, right up Route 302.
I can take you over there if you want.
Would you? We should let the local PD know we're here.
This is where Tom always parks.
There's a great blind about a quarter of a mile in.
Still not answering his cell phone.
Don't worry, Sel.
You know Tom turns it off when he's hunting.
Flanagan, we need you to wait here with Mr.
Grant while we go take a look around, all right.
I can give you guys a hand.
No, that's okay.
We got it.
There goes a perfectly fine pair of Gucci loafers.
ED: Hey.
I've got something over here.
Man down.
Gunshot to the back of the head.
I got another one over here.
Looks like a teenage girl.
Got one here, too.
Thomas Flanagan.
What in God's name happened here? We've never seen this kind of thing up here.
Did you know them? They're all locals from Kingston who hunt up here every season.
Stoney Anderson and his son, Jason.
Eric and Amanda Haas.
And Thomas Flanagan.
His son gonna be okay? Doctors say it looks okay.
Look at this.
This is the guy that died in the crash, the one we thought was Flanagan.
I don't recognize him.
You think that's our shooter? He's an excellent candidate.
But you didn't find aweapon in the car? No, not one that was fired recently.
We're gonna have somebody from our squad e-mail you his prints and photos as soon as possible, all right? Man, I don't envy those dudes, having to notify all the families.
Better them than us.
Besides, we have a long drive back.
Hey, didn't that AIS detective say that, that Explorer had a full tank of gas? Yeah.
He factored that into the weight of the vehicle to determine its speed.
Well, those SUVs, the gas mileage is practically nothing.
So, if they started up here, they had to fill up on the way in.
That's what I'm saying.
Excuse me.
Were you working here this morning? Yeah.
Something wrong? You remember seeing this man here? He was driving a green Ford Explorer, had a teenage boy with him.
Yeah, they filled up around 9:00, 9:30.
Was there another car behind them? Not that I saw.
Did he pay cash or credit? Cash.
Do you remember anything unusual about him? They pulled up to the bathroom before they pulled up to the pump.
And the bathroom is on the side? Yeah.
Yeah, thanks.
Nothing in there a little Lysol wouldn't help.
Joe, look at this.
"John Wyatt.
" Oh, looky here.
That's no hunting rifle.
So John Wyatt is the dead driver and the upstate shooter? One and the same.
The rifle we found is an AR-15 semiautomatic.
It's a positive ballistics match for the murder weapon, and Wyatt's prints are all over it.
They found his pickup truck about three miles from where the shootings were, so it looks like he just ran to the closest car.
The guy's a poster child for anger management.
He was thrown out of high school, half a dozen arrests for barroom fights, and he just got fired from his warehouse job for throttling his boss.
Just the type of dude you want running around with an AR-15.
It still leaves us the question of who ran Wyatt off the road.
I'm taking you two out of the batting order until we tie up the loose ends.
With all due respect, Lieutenant, whoever forced Wyatt off the road saved Thomas Flanagan's life.
And hurt a whole bunch of innocent people.
I'll be expecting your best efforts here, Fontana.
Yes, ma'am, 100%.
So, if you're driving south on that side of the Hudson, you have to pay a toll to get into New York City.
Did Flanagan's Explorer have an EZ-Pass we can track? No such luck.
VAN BUREN: Maybe someone called 911? We already checked that.
In Ulster County? Took you fellas long enough.
I called 911 yesterday.
We understand that, Mrs.
Haiduk, and we're sorry.
Uh, you complained about some hunters? That's right.
In the same woods where all those people were shot.
Unbelievable, isn't it? Maybe if somebody would have showed up sooner.
You were here when you heard the shots? Back in the laundry room.
There must have been nine or ten shots this time, by the road.
This time.
There were others? Last weekend, there were a couple of hunters on my property.
Hell, I must have called the cops a dozen times since the hunting season started.
First two times, they came out to look around.
Now they don't even bother.
Well, after the shooting stopped yesterday, did you happen to see someone drive by? Can't say that I did.
Thank you.
I was on Route 302 in Nanuet, near the Palisades, and this green SUV came up from behind me out of nowhere, and went flying past me.
Almost ran me off the road.
You called 911 from your car? Well, lthought the guy was gonna kill somebody.
But my cell phone died in the middle of the call.
Is that the last you saw of the vehicle, Mr.
Stoller? Yeah.
But about a minute after the SUV went by, some otherjerk did the same thing.
Can you describe that vehicle? A dark-colored sedan.
ED: Did it have any stickers on the back of it? Not that I noticed.
Last I saw, they were both on the ramp for the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Which leads right to the city.
Thanks, man.
FONTANA: Thank you.
Lot of trouble to go through to find the guy who rescued that kid.
Maybe you'd rather be outside picking up quarters.
I'm just saying that we looked at a couple thousand cars already.
And I'm just saying we're gonna do it all over again in case we missed something.
Hey, there's a green Explorer.
FONTANA: Wrong license number.
You sure you have the right time frame? I'll tell you what we're going to do.
We're going to expand the time frame 15 minutes on each side, just in case.
You know, I'm beginning to not like your attitude at all.
Tommy Flanagan's out of recovery.
My dad made me go.
He said the fresh air would wake me up.
But you stayed in the car? Yeah.
I was too tired to go hunting.
I fell asleep.
Iwoke up when the car started moving again.
I thought it was my Dad taking us home.
It was some strange guy that was driving.
You'd never seen this guy before? (CRYING) He stuck a knife in my face.
I thought he was gonna slit my throat if I didn't sit still.
This guy's not going to hurt you anymore.
He's dead.
Do you remember making any stops on the way into the city? TOMMY: Oh, yeah, for gas.
He threw a rifle in the dumpster.
I was gonna run, but I was too scared.
Did you make any other stops? Just to slow down for the toll at the G.
The George Washington, and not the Tappan Zee? Right.
I was gonna try to jump out, but he didn't stop.
He just ran the EZ-Pass lane, the far left lane.
Do you remember seeing another car following you? Got real nervous when we got to the bridge.
Kept on looking in his rearview mirror.
Hi, sweetie.
How are you feeling? We were just finishing up.
You have a very brave son here, Mrs.
That driver who followed our car, I hope you find him so I can at least say thank you.
Mom, where's Dad? Is he coming to see me? You think the kid had it right? Are you kidding me? Down to the exact lane.
So, when Stoller said that he saw them headed towards the Tappan Zee, he was lying.
Or mistaken.
You don't really believe that.
No, I do not.
In all the excitement, I guess I just got confused.
I'll tell you what I think happened, Randall.
I think you saw what happened in the woods, and when Wyatt tried to take off, you took off after him.
That's not true.
I don't know why you keep lying about it.
You saved a kid's life, for crying out loud.
You're a hero.
You think so? Absolutely.
Sit down.
And between us, that son of a bitch that killed those hunters in the woods, who's gonna miss him? Nah, I never followed him.
I just tried to get the plate number and call the police.
I'm very disappointed in you, Randall.
Hey, Joe.
Did you know that the Port Authority takes photos of every vehicle that goes through the G.
Bridge tollbooths? I did not know that, Ed.
Check this out.
Here is the Flanagans' green Explorer going through the far left EZ-Pass lane at 9:57 a.
Followed 30 seconds later by a blue Toyota Camry, registered to you.
FONTANA: Oh, come on, why don't you tell us the rest of the story? I promise you, it's not going to be a tenth as bad as you think it is.
I want a lawyer.
All right.
Here you go, big-shot crime fighter.
Hook yourself up.
You can read yourself your own rights, too.
Stoller followed Wyatt from the scene of the hunting massacre all the way to Washington Heights.
Where was Wyatt going? Best we can figure, he has a cousin who lives on Amsterdam Avenue.
When Stollertried to cut him off, Wyatt sped up, and his car veered out of control.
The only fatality was the perpetrator of the massacre.
Still a homicide.
What are we going to charge him with? The last thing the police need is vigilantes playing bumper cars on the streets of Manhattan.
An argument can be made that Stoller saved Tommy Flanagan's life.
It was only dumb luck that Stoller didn't kill him, too.
He nearly ran over a family of four at an intersection.
What's the defendant say about all this? Nothing.
He lawyered up.
If Stoller wants to stonewall, we don't have any choice.
Charge him with manslaughter.
That is not gonna go down so well outside this building.
This guy's on his way to becoming a media darling.
We're not here to win a popularity contest.
Until we get an accounting from Stoller, let's prosecute the case we have.
“Docket number BMW.
People v.
Randall Stoller.
"One count manslaughter, eight counts of assault, "one count leaving the scene of an accident.
" How does he plead, Ms.
Chenier? Guilty to being a hero, Judge.
His heroics resulted in a fatality and eight seriously injured people, YourHonoL The only fatality was the lunatic behind the bloodbath at Antler Creek.
And the young man who was abducted is alive today because of Mr.
Stoller's actions.
To prosecute my client for this is an outrage.
Aside from the fatality and the injuries, dozens more were endangered.
My client is a hard-working family man, a law-abiding citizen who's never so much as had a parking ticket.
I'll set bail at $1,000.
On a homicide, Judge? That's right, Ms.
I don't see the defendant as flight risk.
Call the next case.
(BANGS GAVEL) I want to offer my condolences to the families in Ulster County.
And I'm real thankful Tommy Flanagan's gonna be okay.
REPORTER 1: What about the bystanders who were injured? I'm very sorry about that.
(CAMERA CLICKING) I just hope those people don't lose any time off theirjobs.
Stoller, have you had any conversations That's all my client has to say for the time being.
Thank you.
Didn't take long for Julia to start working the jury pool.
You have any sway with her? Our paths have crossed a couple of times.
Julia's aggressive.
But she knows a good deal when it comes across her desk.
See what you can do.
JULIA: I have Larry King calling me, okay? Not one of his flunkies.
Larry King.
And some studio exec who's talking about a six-figure rights deal.
Sounds like a ticket out of Legal Aid.
Who said I want a ticket? What about Stoller? You don't understand.
This guy's not looking for his 15 minutes.
He's for real.
What are you looking for? A walk.
That's not going to happen.
I know the game, charge high, plead low.
So, let's play.
Assuming his story's consistent with the hype, one count of manslaughter to cover everything.
(CHUCKLING) Stoller saved you guys the trouble of incarcerating John Wyatt for the next 50 years.
John Wyatt deserved atrial.
You're starting to sound like your new boss.
Not to mention the eight people who wound up in the E.
Can't do it.
We might throw in avery sweet sentencing recommendation.
I'll get back to you after our motion to dismiss your indictment.
You wanna order some spring rolls? Why should I dismiss this indictment, Ms.
Chenier? Because the law authorized my client to make a citizen's arrest.
He may have been authorized to make an arrest, but not to engage in a high-speed chase down Dyckman Street and cause a fatal accident.
Stoller's conduct was gross recklessness.
My client was doing his duty as a citizen.
We've recognized the legality of the citizen's arrest for hundreds of years, from medieval England to the posses of our frontier.
And this mentality has been the source of countless unjustified lynchings and mob violence.
Times have changed.
But the law hasn't.
The Penal Law permits a private citizen to use deadly force to prevent the escape of a perpetrator who has committed a serious felony in his presence.
You can't derail a train because a fugitive's on board.
The statute requires a citizen making an arrest to do everything reasonable under the circumstances.
Which is exactly why I need to know a little more about what happened in Ulster County.
I'm ordering a hearing on your motion, Ms.
My department was alerted by two New York City detectives that they needed our assistance in Antler Creek Park.
I got in my cruiser and met them there.
And what did you find when you arrived? Five bodies in the woods.
Three of them were friends from high school who took their kids to hunt once they were old enough.
The members of this hunting party were chased down and slaughtered? Were you able to determine what provoked the shooting? On a previous occasion, one of the victims had complained about the shooter, John Wyatt.
Said he was trespassing in one of his tree stands.
These guys get pretty possessive about that.
And he said Wyatt was using an automatic rifle.
JULIA: And that's a problem? RHODES: It really isn't appropriate for shooting deer.
A gun like that'll maim an animal more often than it'll kill it.
Was Randall Stoller in Antler Creek Park that day, Officer? He pulled off the road to hunt at the exact time that Wyatt was killing these folks.
At any time, did Mr.
Stoller report what he saw? Only when he made a short 911 call while he engaged in pursuit of the SUV.
Headed east on Route 302? That's right.
What's on Route 302 between Antler Creek and the Palisades Parkway? It's a rural area, but there are a couple hundred houses there, two gas stations, a church, a mini-mart.
So if Mr.
Stoller was unable to use his cell phone, he could've stopped at any of those places and called for help? RHODES: I suppose so.
And on the Parkway itself, there's a State Police barracks? Two, in fact, just off the exits.
JACK: And a tollbooth at the entrance to the G.
All right, I get the point, Mr.
Do counsel have anything to add to their arguments? It's quite apparent what happened here, Judge.
My client saw a crime take place.
He attempted to apprehend the perpetrator.
An objective which may have been accomplished by the police, without the collateral damage inflicted by the defendant.
The operative word being "may.
" The defendant might have had better options, but hindsight's always 20-20.
I'm ruling that by engaging in this pursuit, the defendant was attempting a citizen's arrest.
It's unfortunate that these bystanders were injured, but the manslaughter and assault charges against the defendant are dismissed.
The count of leaving the scene of an accident is retained.
(JUDGE BANGS GAVEL) One dead, eight hospitalized, and all we have left is a traffic case.
It's pretty clear Judge Fillmore got caught up in the tide of public opinion.
We'll file an appeal.
Which could take years.
Maybe Judge Fillmore will be in private practice by then.
McCoy, lthought you'd like to get that as soon as possible.
Tommy Flanagan's liver failed.
He's dead.
We can't prosecute Stoller for Wyatt's death, but now we can indict him for Tommy Flanagan.
Stoller's conduct didn't change.
Like I've always said, there's no education in the second kick of a mule.
I don't think the mule's going to kick this time.
A newjudge will be hard-pressed to toss this case, now that we've got an innocent victim instead of a dead mass-murderer.
What about a jury? I can't guarantee a win.
But I'll make them think long and hard before they hand Stoller a license to kill Tommy Flanagan.
BRANCH: What about the equities here, Jack? Do we really think he deserves a manslaughter sentence? JACK: As opposed to murder? The last time we approached him, he wasn't interested in any kind of sentence.
Selma Flanagan lost a husband and a son.
If it's the son you're throwing down the gauntlet for, I'd want to know if she's of the same mind.
They said if Tommy's liver hadn't got hurt in the accident, it never would have happened.
They did everything they could, but We're very sorry, Mrs.
This is an extremely difficult time, but we need to make some decisions about Randall Stoller.
I thought you said his case was dismissed? Now we can try Mr.
Stoller for your son's death.
You told the police you felt he was a hero, but now Obviously, things have changed.
You mean, if he hadn't followed our car, Tommy might still be alive.
But they said that man had a knife.
BORGIA: He did.
So, he might have killed Tommy anyway, since Tommy could identify him.
Or, if Mr.
Stoller had acted more responsibly, Wyatt might have been apprehended by the police before any more violence occurred.
What if this were your son, Mr.
McCoy? Wouldn't you want somebody to try and help him? There were other ways to help, Mrs.
I believe if Stoller hadn't taken the law into his own hands, your son would still be alive today.
John Wyatt is the one who should have paid for this.
But he got off easy.
So many families have been destroyed already.
Is sending Mr.
Stoller to jail going to bring my son back? It would have been nice to have her in the courtroom.
So, do you still want to re-file? Why not? With all due respect to Mrs.
Flanagan, her emotional response in her darkest hour shouldn't be our only consideration.
So, what is driving this, Jack? What did Stoller think he was going to do once he stopped Wyatt? Take out his deer rifle and shoot him? Fortunately, he didn't.
Another six inches here or there, and we'd have a dozen dead bystanders.
But there weren't.
I understand there's value to making an example out of him, but As far as I can tell, Stoller's taking the position that he's beyond reproach, that he doesn't have to account to anyone.
And whenever I hear that, it's a huge red flag.
My client is sick that this young man died.
Then he should accept some responsibility.
He tried to save Tommy Flanagan's life.
JACK: And he didn't do a very good job of it.
Even if I grant you the benefit of every doubt, Mr.
Stoller, there's criminal responsibility here.
You should seriously consider a plea to manslaughter.
I have a wife and three kids.
What are they going to do? You had an hour and half to think about them while you were pursuing Wyatt.
Have you explained to your client that if he loses, he could get twelve and a half-to-25? It's his call.
You'll offer the minimum? Three-to-nine.
And that's a gift.
Why should I plead guilty if I tried to do the right thing? Because it wasn't the right thing, Mr.
You ignored the lives of everyone out there.
And Tommy Flanagan died as a result.
I'm very sorry about what happened.
But I was raised that when you see somebody in trouble, you try to help.
That's what I did.
I'm just going to have to put my faith in ajury.
CLAIRE: We were sitting here, having breakfast when we heard some tires squeal outside.
We turned to see what it was, and we saw this carjump the curb.
It was coming sideways, straight at us.
I've never been so scared in my life.
It came smashing through the front window, right where we were sitting.
What happened to you as a result? My face was cut from the flying glass.
I got 14 stitches.
I'm going to have a scar, and I broke my arm and my wrist when the car knocked me back.
It took me six weeks to get back to work, and it's It's still not right.
I have no questions for this witness.
WOMAN ON TAPE: 911 Operator.
What's your emergency? RANDALL ON TAPE: Uh, yeah, I'm behind a green Explorer on County Road 302 going east.
It's a New York license plate, R-J-"I (BREAKING UP) Some I can't make it OPERATOR: I'm sorry, sir, you're breaking up.
RANDALL: He's heading east, but I can't keep up.
(BREAKING) I think he's got some In the back seat Sure OPERATOR: Sir, could you repeat your message? RANDALL: Okay, but I'm not really (BREAKING UP) OPERATOR: Sir, please repeat your message.
I lost him, Eddie.
Host him.
Can you identify that call, Officer? That was a 911 call placed on Randall Stoller's cell phone at 9:17 a.
Thank you.
Nothing further.
Officer, could Mr.
Stoller have reported this incident at the Palisades Parkway toll plaza? The manned booths have intercom lines to the shift supervisor.
And if he went through an unmanned booth? There's a bright yellow emergency phone every five miles on the Parkway.
It's not an easy case, Jack.
You're just gonna have to convince the jury that this guy's way over the top.
Do I look worried? Maybe you should be.
People are going to identify with this guy.
We've all been in situations like Stoller.
Pursuing armed murderers? I saw a huge man punch a woman in the face on the subway stairs a few years ago.
When I saw that she had help, I followed him.
What were you going to do if you caught him? I wasn't really sure.
You and Randall Stoller.
I got lucky.
A cop rode by, and I flagged him down.
You're making my point! BRANCH: if folks had been a little more vigilant, maybe September 11th would still be known as Bear Bryant's birthday.
"Folks" like the FBI? And some flight school instructors I can think of.
Given the state of the world, folks just don't feel comfortable sitting on their hands.
Vigilance is one thing.
Vigilantism is another.
Sorry, I still don't get why we're prosecuting this guy.
His actions led to the death of innocent young boy.
Accidents happen.
He was pursuing a mass murderer.
Talk about facts not in evidence.
He didn't know that.
At best he knew that he might've observed a single shooting.
But we know that's not the case.
We know that now.
He didn't know that then.
Look, you haven't been here very long.
You can do better than that, Jack.
All right, how about we chalk it up to an emotional response, not a legal response? How about well-intentioned people can disagree? Not about homicide! Not in this office.
Look, I'll make it simple.
If you listen to my cross and you still don't understand why this guy's on trial What, I should go back where I came from? Your choice.
Not mine.
I was going deer hunting that morning.
I pulled to the side of 302 and that's when I heard shots.
Then I heard a girl screaming.
JULIA: Could you tell what was happening, Mr.
Stoller? Not really.
I jogged down the road to get closer, and that's when I heard more shots.
And then, in the woods, I saw a figure in orange sort of like crumble to the ground.
And then, out of nowhere, I saw a guy in a hunting jacket run towards the side of the road.
Hejumped in a green Explorer and drove away.
And what did you do? I ran back to my car and went after him.
And then, Mr.
Stoller? I kept following him.
And then, I noticed there was somebody else in the back of the car.
Did you make any attempt to report what had happened? Sure.
I called 911 on my cell phone.
But that darn thing died in the middle of the call.
So you followed the Explorer straight into New York City? Not straight.
He stopped at a gas station on 302, and I pulled over to see what he was gonna do.
How far away from him? Like 100 yards.
The guy got out of the Explorer, and he pulled a kid out of the back, a teenage boy.
And what did you observe at that point? Well, I lost them for about a minute.
But when the kid tried to get in the back seat, the guy opened the front door and, like, shoved the kid in.
Then they pulled to the pump, got some gas, and drove away.
And then you followed them into New York City? Right.
He went over the bridge.
He was trying to get away from me.
But I followed him to one of the first exits.
Once he got off, it was harder to keep up with him in all the city traffic.
What happened? Well, we wound up on this street up there.
He was running lights, and weaving in and out of traffic at a pretty good clip.
I was trying not to lose sight of him.
At one point, he's in the right lane, and I see a bus start to pull out from the curb.
And it looks like I can box him in and get him to stop.
But then, he speeds up and cuts in front of me, and his car went skidding to the left, and then I heard a huge crash.
Did you stop? I panicked.
I know I should've pulled over, but I just kept driving.
One last question, Mr.
Why did you do all of this? Well, I was pretty sure this guy just shot somebody.
And when I saw him with that kid at the gas station, I knew something was wrong and somebody had to stop him from getting away.
And I was the only one who could do that.
Thank you.
You testified that you followed Wyatt because you heard gunshots and a girl scream, and you saw a man crumble in the woods? That's right.
Did you ever stop to find out why she was screaming, Mr.
Stoller? Or to help the man who had fallen? I didn't have time.
Wyatt was getting away.
Did you have time to stop at the gas station and tell the attendant to call 911? He was standing right there.
I was scared.
What about after he left? What would that have taken, about 10 seconds? At which point, you could have easily resumed your pursuit.
I didn't think of it.
Did you think about what you would've done if you had stopped him, Mr.
Stoller? Started shooting? No.
Well, how would you have apprehended John Wyatt? Were you going to do the job of the entire New York City police force? I would have gotten help then.
Really? Did you get help after the crash? I told you, I panicked.
The truth is you fled.
And you never contacted the police to report what you saw in Antler Creek Park.
I thought I would get into trouble.
And when detectives interviewed you about the events of that day, you lied because you'd get into trouble? That's right.
You were more concerned with what happened to you than with the victims of this incident? That's hardly the mindset of a hero, is it, Mr.
Stoller? You're treating me like I killed those people up there.
What about the people you did kill? Don't they count? Randall Stoller awoke one morning to see a horrific crime take place.
He risked his own life to pursue a murderer who had taken a hostage.
And now, not only are his actions being criticized because they were not letter-perfect, he is being prosecuted, for manslaughter.
We live in a dangerous world, where there isn't always a police officer around when we need one.
And on those rare occasions when we see the law being broken, the ordinary among us are called upon to make a choice.
Do you watch from the sidelines, or do you have the courage to perform atime-honored civic duty? We've heard countless stories of people in dire situations, saved by brave and selfless individuals who act on a moment's impulse.
Which is what any good and decent human being, like Randall Stoller, does when life hangs in the balance.
The question is not what could he have done differently, but whether you should send him to jail for doing what he did.
Chenier is right about one thing.
We do live in a dangerous world, and we might be ready to give someone an "A" for effort, even iftheirjudgment was fatally bad, as long as we believed they were fighting back against what scares us.
The defendant calls himself a hero, and it would make things easier if we could believe it.
But Mr.
Stoller was no such thing.
By his own account, he was two men, one brave and clever, the other blind and stupid with fear, unable to decide where to hang his hat, whether to offer courage or panic as his defense.
He chose both.
Why would he claim two contradictory motives to explain away what he did? The answer is simple.
He doesn't want you to notice what the bare facts say, that after his reckless play for glory, he's made one long, continuous and guilty-minded attempt to escape responsibility for endangering a lot of people and causing the death of Tommy Flanagan.
He's still trying.
Hold Mr.
Stoller accountable.
There are real heroes out there.
You don't have to settle for a fake.
Has the jury reached a verdict? FOREPERSON: We have, Your Honor.
How do you find? We find Mr.
Stoller not guilty of manslaughter.
Oh, thank you.
You can't really be surprised they let him get away with it.
Just disappointed.
The more people fear, the more they tolerate.
We all need heroes, Jack.
So did Tommy Flanagan.