Law & Order (1990) s22e09 Episode Script

The System

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.
Excuse me.
You're Nolan Price?
Yes. What can I do for you?
You can let my son out of jail.
Stop pretending he's guilty.
I'm sorry, ma'am, I don't know who
My son is Troy Booker.
He's been in Rikers for 18 months
for a crime he didn't commit.
I've called you a dozen times.
I know.
It's not appropriate for me
to talk to you directly.
Your son's lawyer needs to be involved.
But you should know that
we are reviewing the evidence,
like we do in all cases,
and if we believe the facts
don't support the charge,
we will take appropriate action.
You've been hiding
behind that damn speech
since he got arrested.
- Ma'am.
- I I suggest that you speak
with your son's attorney.
He's innocent.
He was trying to help
that man who got shot.
That's why he got blood on his clothes.
You're destroying a good man's life!
Ms. Frazier, I know
you're new to the case,
but I've already ruled on the
defendant's motion to dismiss.
Prior counsel was ineffective,
and as you'll see in my brief, the facts
are woefully insufficient
to support a murder two charge,
let alone a conviction.
That's why there's a trial
So the jury can interpret the evidence.
Don't get smug with me, Price.
I know how the system works.
Trust me.
This case was built on sand.
But defense counsel neglected to mention
one other important piece
of information.
The defendant actually
confessed to the murder.
Which was coerced
and is therefore invalid.
There is no evidence of coercion.
Okay, okay, I've heard enough.
Well, given the length
of time the defendant
has been incarcerated, and the fact that
the actual trial isn't even
on the calendar yet,
I want to hold an evidentiary
hearing to learn more
about Mr. Booker's confession.
Is your client here?
No, he's apparently still en route.
Will you waive his presence?
Mr. Price, contact the detective
who took the confession.
Get him down here right away.
Mr. Booker waived his right to counsel
and repeatedly stated
that he wanted to talk
to clear up any confusion.
But the more he talked,
the more he contradicted himself.
How long did you question him?
Approximately two hours.
And what led to his confession?
Mr. Booker had blood on his shirt.
That blood was eventually
tested and proven
to belong to the victim.
So after laying out all the
facts, Mr. Booker confessed?
Yes, he did.
I let him know that we
had an airtight case
and that it would be
in his best interest
to tell the truth.
I told him if he did that,
that he had a chance at having a life.
That maybe one day, he would
be released from prison.
What then?
He admitted that he
shot Marcus Williams.
Courthouse is going into lockdown.
We have an attempted escape
down at prisoner intake.
No, no, no, no, no!
[GRUNTS] Wait.
- Where's the bus?
- They're on their way.
- Handle that!
- Okay.
Wheel him in! Wheel him in!
Hey, hey. Look at me.
All right, grab my hand. Grab my hand.
Stay here with me. What happened?
Who did this? Who did this?
An inmate!
What's his name?
Troy Booker!
Listen, where's that bus?
Where's the bus?
The Regional Fugitive
Task Force is now involved,
but we are still running point.
Any idea how he escaped?
The transport vans were backed up,
so the CO brought Booker out early
before they got into the sally port
to try to move things along.
I'm guessing Booker
grabbed the CO's weapon.
The view is blocked by
the van from this camera,
so we're waiting for the
footage from that one.
We need to find out what happened
on the ride over here from Rikers.
Were there any other inmates in the van?
How about any other
corrections officers?
See if Booker has any friends
in high places.
Wouldn't be the first inmate
who got help from a CO.
I already dug into all of that.
There was only one inmate
in the van, Booker.
And as for friends in high places,
apparently, he was close
to one female CO.
The warden said
she was recently punished
for getting too close to Booker.
All right. Is she over at Rikers?
No. She called in sick today.

I see an individual
Black male, athletic build.
- I can't tell.
- It could be him?
Could be.
- Hands up!
- What the hell?
- Hands above your head, Troy!
My name isn't Troy!
No, he's not lying. It's not our guy.
You damn right, I ain't your guy.
- Got any weapons on you?
- No.
We're looking for an escaped
prisoner named Troy Booker.
Put your hands down.
Why the hell you looking here?
- Is Alana here?
- No.
- Clear!
- I don't know where she is.
She said she wasn't feeling well.
Place is clear.
Who are you? What are you doing here?
You live here?
I'm done answering your questions.
Get the hell out of here.
We need to speak with Alana,
so we're not going anywhere.
You don't have the right
to be here anyway.
We're looking for a fugitive
who is armed and dangerous,
who's already shot one innocent person.
So we have every right to be here.
Whoa, whoa. What happened?
Has Alana ever talked
about this guy, Booker?
She mentioned his name.
She think he's being screwed,
you know, another white cop,
innocent Black man thing.
That is not in play here.
If you say so.
- What the hell?
- Alana, I presume.
We're here to talk about
your friend, Troy Booker.
Why? What happened?
He escaped custody.
I hope you never find him too.
Troy Booker's a good man.
Doesn't belong in jail,
let alone a hellhole like Rikers.
What do you mean?
Means Troy did what he had
to do, and I don't blame him.
When's the last time
you talked to Booker?
- He talk about escaping?
- No.
And since then,
you've had no communication?
No emails, no texts, no calls?
So you really expect us to believe
you had nothing to do with his escape?
I'm telling the truth.
That kid didn't kill anyone.
It's a bad case.
And now he's sitting in jail
day after day, getting his ass kicked.
He shot a coworker of yours,
a fellow officer, and escaped.
We need to know where he is right now.
I said, I don't know.
Alana, I arrested him for that murder.
And I heard him confess.
It's on tape.
So don't sit here right now
and tell me that he's innocent.
If you know anything, anything at all,
you need to tell us right now,
or we will bury your ass
for conspiracy and obstruction.
Alana, don't be stupid.
Don't throw your life away
for this kid, Booker.
I got a call from him
this morning after he escaped.
He wanted money.
I agreed. I said I'd help him out.
Did you two connect?
We were supposed to meet up at noon.
End of the hall, last door.
NYPD! Police!
- What the hell are you doing?
- Hands up!
Put your hands behind your head!
Or what? You gonna shoot me, white boy?
Huh? That's it?
That's not our guy. Not our guy, Frank.
Okay, listen to me.
We're looking for your brother.
If he's in the apartment,
tell us right now.
I don't know what you're talking about.
- All clear.
- See? Clear.
Now get the hell out of here, all right?
You got any weapons in the house?
- No.
- Put your hands down.
When's the last time you talked to Troy?
I don't recall.
Yo, yo, what the hell are you doing?
Four cheeseburgers, four
large fries, two milkshakes.
It's a lot of food for one guy.
Yeah, well, I was hungry.
I bet he was too. Where is he?
Look, I ain't seen a damn thing.
So you might as well just
walk the hell on out of here,
- all right?
- Shaw, I got blood.
We're not going anywhere.
Sit down!
Unless you start cooperating,
we're gonna arrest your ass too.
For what?
Aiding and abetting,
hindering prosecution,
that's for what!
All right, well, do what you got to do.
Take him down to the 2-7.
Get up.
Put your hands behind your back.
Yeah, well, I hope you
proud of yourself, brother.
2-7 Squad to Central,
perp is no longer in the residence.
Be advised, he's armed and dangerous.
Check it out.
Well, he was definitely here.
Food was bought at 11:42.
It's now 12:03.
We just missed him.
Yeah, okay, got it.
Booker was just at his
brother's apartment
over in Bushwick on the corner
of Wilson and Halsey.
So he's got to be close by.
Let's send out a BOLO and see if RTCC
has any videos from street cams
or traffic cams in the general area.
On it.
Hey, this is Lieutenant Dixon.
I want a level three mobilization set up
in the vicinity of Wilson
and Halsey Streets in Brooklyn.
Send out all available SRGs.
We need to set up a containment
within a half-mile radius.
I want that area covered in blue.
RTCC got a hit.
Booking's heading east on Cooper Street.

2-7 Squad to Central.
Got eyes on the target.
North side of Cooper Street, mid-block.
Black jacket, black baseball cap.
10-13, in pursuit of suspect!
Move! Move! Move! Move!

Down on the ground!
Down on the ground! Down on the ground!
- Down! It's over, Booker!
- Stay down.
- Hey, stay down!
- Put that gun down!
Hey, hey, hey! Don't do this!
- Ah! Help me!
- Don't do it!
- Put that gun down!
- No, no, no!
Back up or I'll shoot!
Let her go. Let her go.
Do not escalate this.
Let her go.
Shots fired. Suspect has a hostage.
Hey, hey, hey. No, no, no, no, no.
We'll set up a containment.
We'll reason with him. Ease down.
Ease down.
Looks like our best shot
is through the front window.
I'll let you know
when we're in position.
I got a hostage negotiator on the way.
We don't need that. I can talk to him.
What are you talking about?
I know him. Well, sort of.
I arrested him. I took his confession.
And you think that that makes
you qualified to handle this?
No, I'm not saying
that makes me qualified,
but I'm saying I connected
with Booker before.
I got him to confess.
But I'm saying he knows me.
He's seen me before.
The longer we wait to engage,
the greater the risk.
Hostage negotiator isn't even on site.
Jalen is.
- Let's give it a shot.
- Thank you.
Hey, I finally got access
to video of the actual escape.
Thought it might be helpful.

Wait, that gun is in the guard's hand.
Yeah, thanks. That helps.
I need a throw phone!

Don't you even think
about coming in here,
or I'll shoot everybody
in this damn place!
Don't hurt us.
Please, I have three children!
Stop. Stop talking. Stop talking.
Just do what I say. Understand me?
Please don't shoot me! [PHONE RINGING]
- Go. Go.
Pick it up.
Pick up the phone! Pick up the phone!
Give it to me.
Troy, this is Detective Shaw.
- Remember me?
- Yes.
I want you to listen to me closely.
You need to let these hostages go.
If you do that, there's still
a way out of this.
There's some good news.
The corrections officer that
you shot, he's still alive.
We got the video.
So we know that you two were
wrestling over the weapon,
and he's the one who
actually pulled the trigger.
So that's good news too.
But you got to let
these people go, Troy.
You do that, you can tell
your side of the story.
I've been trying to explain
myself for the last 18 months.
I didn't kill him.
I saw the real killer.
I was there at the scene.
I'm trying to help
the dude who got shot.
That's why I have blood on my clothes!
'Cause I tried to save his ass,
but nobody wants to hear any of that.
Tell it to the jury.
That's what trials are for, Troy.
You have to believe in the system.
Believe in the system
Are you serious?
The system's the thing
that's trying to kill me.
No, I'm not going back to Rikers!
Go, Frank.
Radios off.

You lied to me, Shaw.
You played me.
You got me to confess
to something I didn't do.
Tell it to the jury,
and let them hear your truth.
And I sure as hell ain't
believing in no system!
It ain't it ain't built
for people like me!
You know it, and I know it!
But you got to let
these people go, Troy.
If you're as innocent
as you say you are,
why make this worse?

Troy, now listen to me.
You can tell your side of
the story if you get out of here.
You understand what I'm, saying?
You cannot hurt these people.
I need a car right now,
or one of these innocent people
you keep talking about
is gonna get shot, you hear me?
That is a very bad idea.
You do that, you cannot walk this back.
You can't come back from this.
Come on, brother,
you got the rest of your life
ahead of you.
Drop the gun.
- Troy.
- Get off me!
Drop the gun, or I swear to God
If you don't drop that gun
Come on, brother.
Just put it down.
Drop it!
I got Booker in custody.
The defendant stands accused
in two separate
but related cases
Murder and escape, kidnapping,
and assault of a corrections officer.
The People are seeking consolidation?
The two cases stemmed from
the same criminal transaction.
The escape and assault
never would have happened
but for the underlying murder.
Therefore, we should
only have one trial.
Before you consider joining the cases,
I'd like the opportunity
to argue a motion
to dismiss the murder case.
Well, we've already
been down that road twice.
But I have newly discovered evidence.
The defendant forfeited
the right to further argument
when he chose to escape from custody.
I agree.
Any additional issues can
be visited during the trial.
I'm granting the People's
application to consolidate.
My client has been waiting 18 months
for his day in court, 18 months.
And I now have unassailable evidence
that will exonerate him.
Case is scheduled
for trial next Wednesday.

Mr. Price.
Everyone in my office tells me that
you're a man of integrity,
that you'll listen to reason.
The judge made his ruling.
If you think that
he made an error of law,
- he can file an appeal.
- Wait.
We all know this is
my first murder case,
and it's clear that you think
that I'm naive
for believing in my client.
There is a serious injustice
going on here.
Please, just hear me out.
What is that?
Definitive proof that my client
didn't commit the murder.
And you've been sitting
on this for 18 months?
No, no, of course not.
I got it a few days ago.
Watch the video.
You'll see what I'm talking about.
You'll see that
you arrested the wrong man.
Just take a look.
A man's life is on the line.
Oh, man, check it out.
Now they gonna take it outside.
This is crazy.
These guys have been going all night.
Watch this. Whoa!
This is good footage right [GUNSHOT]
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey!
I need some help!
I need some help!
That's why Booker
had blood on his clothes.
Booker told me that he saw the shooter.
And then he came back
to render aid to the victim.
And I just
I just figured he was lying,
you know, just trying to explain
why he had blood on his clothes.

I don't lie to get a confession.
That's not what this is.
Look, I just laid out the evidence
that was in front of him,
and I told him to tell the truth.
You know, I just wanted him
to know what he was facing.
This kid is
People make false confessions
all the time.
Not to me.
Defense lawyer said he smoked
pot on the night in question.
No. No, no, no, no.
He did not seem high
or intoxicated to me.
And if he had, I wouldn't have
[SIGHS] Where do we go from here?
I'll dismiss the murder charge.
And the escape case?
I'm gonna check with a
corrections officer right now,
see how he feels about a plea.
I'll come with you.

Mrs. Foster.
This is ADA Price,
and I'm Detective Shaw.
I'd like to have a word with
your husband if that's okay.
He's gone.
What do you mean?
He died.
I'm very sorry to hear that, ma'am.
We were told he was doing well.
He was gonna make a full recovery.
His wound got infected.
He went into septic shock.
Now I'm gonna have to tell my kids.
Randall Foster would still be alive
if we hadn't
wrongly incarcerated Booker,
if I had responded
to his mother's phone calls,
if I had dug deeper
into her claims of innocence.
You can't beat yourself up over this.
It's not your fault.
Right now, the issue on the table is,
what do we do about Booker?
What's the appropriate charge?
We charge him with murder two.
Uh, Booker never intended
to kill anybody.
He and Foster were fighting
to gain control of the gun.
The actual bullet wound
wasn't even life threatening.
The CO ultimately died
of the secondary infection.
Legally, yes, but morally?
Shouldn't we at least consider man one?
We can't reward Booker
because he tried to escape,
regardless of his innocence.
Should have waited for the
process to play itself out.
- I get it, but
- But what?
But the system failed him
over and over again.
So why on Earth should we punish him
for not believing in something
that he had no credible basis
to believe in?
I understand you're feeling
guilty about what happened.
But you can't let that
drive your decision.
So we're charging him with murder two?

The day started out
like any other workday
for Randall Foster.
He had breakfast, kissed his
wife and children goodbye,
and went to Rikers Island.
One of his assignments
was to drive an inmate,
uh, the defendant, to the courthouse
for pretrial hearing.
Problem is, the defendant had
something different in mind.
He was planning to overpower
Randall Foster and escape.
The People readily admit
the defendant had reason
to be impatient with the way
his case was progressing,
but instead of following
the lawful path to innocence,
he chose to take matters
into his own hands.
And that's why we're all here today.
Randall Foster is dead.
His wife is a widow.
His son and daughter
will grow up without their father.
At the conclusion
of this trial, I will ask you
to find the defendant guilty of murder.
That was a compelling little yarn
Mr. Price just wove, wasn't it?
An innocent man in Rikers,
he chose to escape
rather than go to trial.
And as such, he must suffer
the consequences
of his unlawful actions.
Ladies and gentlemen, we're
not here because of Mr. Booker.
We're here because of Mr. Price.
He held my client without bail.
He sent him to Rikers,
where he sat for 18 months.
Troy Booker never should
have been arrested,
let alone charged.
He was innocent, and yet Mr. Price
was ready to send him
to prison for life,
just another disposable Black man.
My client did not kill Randall Foster.
The system killed Randall Foster.
So if you want to blame someone,
blame Mr. Price and his colleagues
at the New York Police Department.
They're the criminals.
They're the ones
who should be locked up.
Detective Shaw,
did you obtain that video
from the courthouse security cameras?
I did.
Was it edited or altered in any way?
No, it was not.
Your Honor, we'll stipulate to the video
and its authenticity.
Mr. Price.
The People accept the stipulation.
All right, I'll enter it into evidence
as People's Exhibit 7.
What happened
after the defendant escaped?
The citywide alert,
an armed escaped prisoner.
The defense will also
stipulate to the fact
that Mr. Booker fled
and that he took hostages
and was captured.
I thought the defense was gonna have
a field day with Shaw.
He's the one who took
the false confession.
I'm sure Detective Shaw was relieved.
Maybe, but I'm not.
Why is that?
I don't understand why
the defense lawyer didn't
challenge the veracity of
the video or harp on the fact
that Booker never pointed
the gun at the guard.
She can argue that during her summation.
No, no, it's a missed opportunity.
She could easily have
pecked away at our evidence
and undermined our case.
It sounds like you're worried
you might win.
You did nothing wrong, Nolan.
The truth would have
come out eventually.
You're right,
but eventually took too damn long,
and now Randall Foster is dead.
I understand.
Elements of this case are
highly unusual and troubling.
We act on the facts as presented.
And Randall Foster is dead
because the defendant tried to escape.
That's felony murder all day long.
Make peace with the past.
And get your head into the game.
You know why the defense
didn't attack your evidence?
The facts are on your side.
So they're trying to win
on emotion, not the law.
You need to deliver
an emotional gut punch of your own.

He was a good man.
Hardworking, loved spending
time with his family.
And believe it or not,
he really liked his job.
He felt like he was helping
keep the world safe.
Did he receive any
awards or commendations?
Yes, one.
He saved a prisoner's life.
Gave him CPR in the transport van.
Thank you.
Nothing further.
He loved his job.
Have you ever been to Rikers?
No, I haven't.
Then you've never been
crammed into the intake center
for hours next to men forced
to sit in their own feces.
- Objection.
- Sustained.
Never tasted the spoiled, moldy food.
- Objection.
- Sustained.
Never been thrown in a cage
and hosed down
with decontamination chemicals.
Your Honor, this entire line
of questioning is improper.
I agree.
Move on, Ms. Frazier.
You spoke of your husband.
I am sorry for your loss.
Thank you.
And while you believe
that he was a good man,
it's clear that he was a part
of a broken and corrupt system,
a system that was depriving
an innocent man
of his constitutional rights to liberty
and the pursuit of happiness.
Are we within a mile of a question?
Ask a relevant question,
or this cross-examination is over.
Did you know that
your husband didn't die
from a gunshot wound?
He died from poor medical care?
No foundation.
Okay, Ms. Frazier, we're done here.
Mr. Price, anything else?
No, the People rest.
Ms. Frazier.
The defense calls Troy Booker.
I've never really been in trouble
for anything serious before.
You were arrested once
for a driving offense?
Driving while Black.
They pulled me over for not
using a right turn signal.
Me and half the Black men in America.
The car was uninsured,
and so they arrested me,
and was in jail for three days.
And a few months later,
you were arrested for murder.
Why did you confess if you didn't do it?
[LAUGHS] That's a hell of a question.
I ask myself that every day.
I was young.
And right before
Detective Shaw arrested me,
I had smoked a joint
and was real high, you know.
Shaw, he's smooth.
He told me that all the
evidence pointed to me,
and that the only way
that I could help myself
was to confess.
So I did.
Why'd you escape?
Why'd you grab Officer Foster's gun?
- Self-defense.
- Objection.
There's no evidence Mr. Foster
tried to harm the defendant.
In fact, we already presented video
that showed the defendant committing
an unprovoked attack on Mr. Foster.
I'm not talking about Foster.
Then who are you talking about?
Who was attacking you?
An inmate.
A white supremacist.
Tell the jury what he did, what he said.
The day before I broke out,
he gave me a beat down,
told me that he would kill me
the next time he saw me.
And so, when I was in the van
and I saw an opportunity
to escape, I did.
Either way, I would have died
the next day in Rikers.

What would you have done?
Would you have just surrendered,
accepted your fate,
or would you have done
whatever you could to escape
to fight for your life,
for your freedom?
Objection. He's giving a speech.
Nothing further.
We're adjourned.
This jury wants to let Booker go free
and send me to Rikers in his place.
I think you're right.
May be time to offer a plea.
Okay. What are you offering?
Man one, 15 years.
15 years?
If it's good behavior,
you'll be out in 12.
A hell of a lot better than life.
My client doesn't belong in prison.
Let's not forget
the defendant killed a man.
Under the law, that's felony murder.
If my client stayed
in Rikers one more day,
he would have been murdered.
Manslaughter is the best I can do.
Who the hell do you think you are?
Acting like you're doing me a favor
or offering me some kind of deal?
I'm I'm I'm innocent.
I wasn't supposed to be
in Rikers in the first place!
You made me attack that CO!
I'm not going back
to that place for 12 years.
No way.
And I may not be perfect,
but I have people that love me.
And there are things that
I want to do in my life.
So you can take your plea deal
and shove it up your ass.

There's got to be
something else you can do,
but maybe offer a better plea.
I offered manslaughter.
He wasn't interested.
What about involuntary manslaughter?
He killed a corrections officer
with a wife and two children.
But he's claiming that
his life was in jeopardy,
that if he returned to Rikers,
that he'd be killed in the morning.
That's gotta count for something!
I agree that's why I offered
to plead him out to manslaughter.
I understand the law.
We have to face it. We failed him.
I get it, I do, but
There's no buts here, Nolan.
We failed him. We owe him.
I'll contact Rikers.
No guarantees, of course.
- How's it going?
- I just spoke with the warden.
He went through his logs,
scrubbed all the surveillance
video he could find.

I looked at every piece
of video we have.
This is the only time Mr. Booker
was outside of his cell
on the day in question.
The only time?
He ate breakfast and lunch
in his cell that day.
So you didn't find any video
or other evidence
suggesting that a white inmate attacked
or threatened the defendant that day?
Thank you.
You're the man in charge of the jail.
Is that fair to say?
I am.
16 people died in your
custody last year, correct?
We do the best we can.
But we have limited resources,
limited manpower,
limited funds.
Must be awful to be an inmate in there,
let alone an innocent inmate,
someone who did
absolutely nothing wrong.
- Objection.
- Sustained.
Move on, Ms. Frazier.
Nothing further.
Did Mr. Booker have access to a phone?
All prisoners do.
Did his lawyer visit?
Several times.
So he had a lawful way
of challenging his custody status.
He did.
Alternatives to killing
a guard and escaping.
Yes, sir.
Thank you.

You following me?
So what now?
We finish the trial.
He didn't deserve to be there
in the first place, Nolan.
I know.
There's just nothing we can do
about that, not now.
- What can I get you?
- I'm good. Thank you.
We need to move past all that.
Move past all that?
We ruined this man's life.
That doesn't bother you?
That doesn't get to you?
That doesn't affect you at all?
- Yeah, of course it does.
- Doesn't seem like it.
That's not fair.
I have a job to do.
And wearing my guilt on my sleeve
or giving speeches
about life's inequities
isn't gonna help anybody.
You know, I thought I could help people
by going to law school,
fight the system that way.
It didn't work out for me
the way I thought.
So I joined the Police Academy.
You know, I thought I could
do more good on the streets,
have more of a direct impact.
I became a cop
to keep innocent Black men
out of prison,
not put them in there.
No matter how hard we all try,
every once in a while, we get it wrong.
It's just the way it is.
That's a hell of a speech,
unless your name is Troy Booker.

Counsel, please rise.
Madam Foreperson, have you
agreed upon a verdict?
We find the defendant, Troy Booker,
guilty of murder in the second degree.
That's okay. It's okay.
Members of the jury,
thank you for your service.
We're adjourned. [GAVEL BANGS]

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