September 3rd, 1985
McAvery is the first to arrive, along with PAA Lisa Aldonato, and set right to work running down the name of Mr. William Danning through BCI. He is 43, married, no rap sheet, however there are several domestic disturbances at his address over the past six months. He also has no firearms registered in his name. McAvery found a phone number, but no one is answering it. It may have been disconnected. Many who live in the projects don’t even have phones.
Sgt. O’Hinn shows up, thundering mad, demanding to know where Kowalski is. He called to check on her last night, but of course she was not at home. He drove back to check, still no sign. He spent much of the night trolling the streets looking for her.
Det. Shirley arrives. O’Hinn asks if she’s seen Kowalski, but she hasn’t. Then, as if on cue, Laverne comes down from the Crib looking a bit disheveled. A short row ensues as O’Hinn lays into her for disappearing on him. Veronica is alright and staying at his place in Queens. She will be safe there from the media. Lt. Epstein comes out of his office and cools everything down.
“Alright, O’Hinn, I need you to head back down to 22nd Street and see if things are cool enough for a proper canvas. Take Wierzbowski from the night shift. McAvery, I want you to go to the Danning Apartment. Knock on doors; see what you can find out. Meanwhile, Shirley, Kowalski, I want the two of you to go downtown to psych services. Standard SOP.” He pauses on the last bit. He was expecting Kowalski to protest, but surprisingly she does not. “Alright, people, move!”
O’Hinn gets to the corner where the shooting took place. There is little sign of the riot that took place just a few hours before; but then, the neighborhood is not the most upscale to begin with. Now, few places in New York City are completely without graffiti, but much of the area is in poor shape. Many windows are boarded up with old, graying particle board, or otherwise heavily barred. The alleys have overfull garbage bins, as if the city Sanitation Department avoids the place. Desperation, bred of massive inequality, shows on every face in the crowds. And earlier in the summer two other shootings had put a strain between the African American community and the New York Police Department, the May Day Shooting and the Harlem Shooting. An unfriendly environment for police perceived as the enemy.
O’Hinn begins his canvas with Det. Wierzbowski, but their reception is cool at best. O’Hinn approaches a young African American man working his job as a stocker at the corner food market.
“I remember you here from yesterday,” begins O’Hinn.
“I ain’t got nothin’ to say,” is the cold reply.
“You saw what went down here yesterday?”
“I told you, I ain’t got nothin’ to say to cops.”
Det. Wierzbowski was getting a similar treatment is his canvas. “You here yesterday,” he asks an old African American woman. “You see the shooting?”
“You mean when the cop killed that man for no reason” she asks curtly.
“He’s not dead, ma’am,” says Wierzbowski. “Did you see the incident?”
“No, I didn’t see it. But that’s what happened!”
Det. Wierzbowski tries to stop another young African American man to ask him if he saw anything yesterday. “Yea, I saw it,” says the young man. “But I ain’t got my license to be black in the street today. I don’t wanna get shot, too.” And with that, he walks off.
Most of the morning goes like that. The people of the neighborhood are suspicious and untrusting of the police. Here, the police are the enemy, and the people are closing ranks. The best either detective could get was from the owner of the grocery store, a Mr. Cole. He said, “Man’s name was Bill Danning. He used to shop here. Wife, too. They both shopped here.”
“Did you see the shooting,” asks Sgt. O’Hinn.
“I heard a cop did it on purpose,” replies Mr. Cole.
“That’s not what happened,” says Wierzbowski promptly.
“How do you know what happened?” demands Mr. Cole hotly.
“Mr. Cole,” cuts in Sgt. O’Hinn, “You didn’t see the shooting yourself yesterday?”
“I saw the same goddamn thing I always seen around here! Now get out my store!” As the detectives leave the grocery store, they could just hear the mumbled, “Whole damn store gonna stink of pork all day!”
Det., McAvery arrives at the Stuyvesant Town Projects; a village of giant, red stone buildings looms oppressively over 1st Avenue. Looking up the side one can see that many of the windows are covered with boards because the slum lords will not replace broken glass. The grounds, once beautiful, are barren patched of dirt where lawns used to be. Only a few sad trees remain, stripped of much of their bark and intricately carved with countess names and messages. The public garbage cans are all chained to their posts here, and overflowing with refuse.
McAvery finds himself on the 10th floor walking down a narrow hallway. Sections of the wall and floor are set with thick plywood, gray with age. The drywall that remains is cracked with holed punched in here and there. And the walls, floor, and even the ceiling, are awash with graffiti. The odd tenant out of doors give McAvery as wide a berth as they can manage in the narrow hall. Det. McAvery arrives at the apartment of William Danning and knocks on the door. He tries several times with no response. Knocking on the neighboring doors bears no fruit as well. Det. McAvery is sure he could hear music from behind several doors.
On his way out of the building McAvery runs into a man with thick, curly brown hair only just beginning to recede. “Hello, Detective,” the man says with a pleasant surprise. “I’m Norman Donahue from the Village Voice. Can I ask you some questions?”
“We have no comment at this time,” says McAvery quickly, and tries to walk on. But Mr. Donahue is not to be put off so easily.
“Officer, is there any progress in finding the weapon?”
“That’s detective,” McAvery corrects him. “And we don’t have a comment for the press at this time.”
“This is the third officer involved shooting of an innocent civilian this summer. Do you have any thoughts on that?”
McAvery is getting frustrated. Re recognizes the bait that Donahue is dropping. “No.”
“What about the fact that on each of these shootings, the victim was African American and the officer was Caucasian?”
Det. McAvery senses the danger here, but is finding it increasingly hard to resist commenting. Perhaps sensing McAvery’s temptation, he presses on with even more toxic material. “What is your reaction to neighborhood opinion that it was an unprovoked and unnecessary shooting? Is that why you haven’t found the weapon?”
“It wasn’t unprovoked,” says McAvery. “And we’ll find the weapon.” He knows he’s making a mistake. In his frustration, McAvery shoves past Mr. Donahue,
Victory at last! “Is it possible the victim had no weapon?”
“Look, anything is possible,” says McAvery. “There could be three-legged mice on Venus, but it’s speculation. We’re going to find the gun.”
Mr. Donahue frantically writes in his notebook. McAvery stalks off. He was not on camera. It might not be so bad.
Back at the House the detectives check in with the Lou. McAvery gets on the phone, tracking down relatives of both Mr. Danning and his wife. O’Hinn gets word from the hospital. Mr. Danning died of his wounds early that morning. Because of the protests yesterday the ambulance was delayed getting into the Emergency Room. But even so, the doctors estimated that Mr. Danning wouldn’t have survived anyway. The bullet was far too close to the heart. But they got a preliminary toxicology report showing high levels of alcohol and benzoylmethyl-ecgonine in his system. They guy was on crack!
“Alright,” says Lt. Epstein. “Obviously one of the ‘good citizens’ picked up the gun. O’Hinn, remember a few years ago we did this scheme where we paid people to turn in their guns?”
“Yeah, the gun buy-back.”
“Get the word on the street. We’re looking for the gun used in yesterday’s shooting. $500 bucks for the gun. Get that out quick.”
Through diligence, Det. McAvery finds out that Mrs. Danning has a sister in queens. He tries there and finds Mrs. Danning has been staying there for a few days. He asks her to come in to the station. Finally, things are starting to turn the right direction!
Meanwhile, downtown at One Police Plaza, Det.’s Kowalski and Shirley undergo their required After-Action Debriefing and psyche test. The questions were fairly straight forward for the most part. It was the personal questions that Laverne found the most uncomfortable. “”How is your home life?” “How do you deal with taking care of a teenager by yourself and keep this job?” Strangely enough, Laverne thinks of the mysterious man she met last night. His wisdom helped her immensely and allowed her to deal with the questioning better than she thought she might. In fact, she found herself thinking of Malcolm frequently throughout the day.
The questioning took much of the day for Laverne and Felicity. Unfortunately they caught part of a news story being shot nearby on the steps to City Hall. The notable community activist Latiff Miller was delivering one of his fiery speeches aimed at the police department.
“How long must the black man live in terror in this city? From the very police force his taxes pay to protect and serve him!” He pauses for the thunderous applause, then: “People say to me, ‘Bother Miller, your words foment only fear!’ They say, ‘Brother Miller, you are only making things worse!’ And to them I say, “how can things get any worse?’” Another round of thunderous applause is heard, along with random shouts as if at a religious revival. “One shooting is an accident. Two shootings is a tragedy, but an accident—maybe! But now we see a pattern! To be black in this city is to wear a target on your back! Racism is a subject we fear to discuss, but we must discuss it if things are ever expected to change! There is a cancer infecting our police department in this city! It is the cancer of racism! And that cancer must be cut out if the body is going to live!”
Laverne feels a cold shiver run down her spine. Her stomach feels like it is full of lead. Maybe things won’t get better after all.
Mrs. Danning finally arrives at the Precinct. Det.’s O’Hinn and McAvery take her to Interview Room 2. She is an attractive African American woman; however, she is sporting a split lip and black eye, both healing. They offer her a coffee. She accepts and McAvery goes to fetch it. The interview is slow to get started. Mrs. Danning is aware of her husband’s death. She had been staying with her sister because she and her husband were having some trouble. He had been acting more and more irrational lately, and he’d been drinking a lot. When asked, she intimates that he’d become more and more abusive, and even threatened her life, which was why she left. She confirms that it was her husband who hit her.
“It all started after our son, Marcus, died in a drive-by shooting,” she said. “The police found nothing.”
Sgt. O’Hinn recognized the case as one of the still-open cases they inherited when they absorbed the 9th Precinct’s cases. It reportedly involved a gang war with Los Catorces, a Hispanic gang operating along 14th street, which runs by Stuyvesant Town, and another unknown group. Such cases are hard to solve and prosecute, so they often get left behind. But Sgt. O’Hinn says nothing.
He’s never been the same since Marcus died,” she went on. “He was drinking nearly all the time, I was afraid he was going to lose his job. And I expected we was . . . doing other things, too.”
There was the testimony in support of the toxicology report. The detectives asked if she knew he had a gun. She confirms that she saw it. She had no idea where he got it, but flashed it at her the other day. It was why she left for her sister’s.
O’Hinn and McAvery finished up with Mrs. Danning and let her go. About that time Felicity and Laverne got back. O’Hinn told her they had progress on the case, but decided not to tell her about Mr. Danning’s death. Then Officer d’Angelo from downstairs came up. “Hey O’Hinn, I got six ‘citizens’ with guns for your buyback.”
“Well, what do you got?”
“A bunch of mooleys with their toys: We got two Tec 9’s, a 9mm, a sad looking little .22, and a .38 revolver.”
“Black, heavy barrel?”
“Sounds like your gun.”
“Go ahead and send them on their way, ‘cept the revolver. I want him in The Pokey.”
“I’ll send him right up,” says d’Angelo. “Skel’s name’s Reggie Slocum.”
O’Hinn turns to Laverne, “We might have the gun. We got confirmation; the guy was high on crack and booze. Sit back and we got this.”
While O’Hinn goes to Interview 1, McAvery goes to the phones to run Reggie’s name through BCI. Felicity and Laverne go to Lt. Epstein’s office to talk about their time downtown.
Reggie’s name comes back with a detailed rap sheet, including armed robbery, check fraud, pandering, and possession with intent to sell. McAvery goes to fill in O’Hinn. Officers have already brought Reggie Slocum to the room. Reggie is a skinny African American man with a close-cropped Afro, moustache, and a beat-up Mets jacket. The gold fillings in his teeth flash in the lighting.
“Good afternoon, Reggie,” began O’Hinn. “Where’d you get the gun?”
“Hey, I’m just doin’ my civic duty, you know what I’m sayin’?”
“You were at 22nd and 2nd yesterday?”
“Hey, I was there,” says Reggie with a grin.
“So what happened?”
“Hey, you know.” Reggie hesitates, and then goes on. “You know. Dude was shootin’ up the place; your cop had to throw down.”
“How did you end up with the gun, Reggie?”
“Hey, I jus’ picked it up ‘cause I knew it would be safe in my hands, you know what I’m sayin’?”
“You just picked it up,” said O’Hinn coldly.
“Look,” said Reggie, maintaining his smarmiest grin. “You write it up however you like, an’ I’ll sign the mutha fucka. And the I’ll get paid!”
O’Hinn gets into Reggie’s face, “Reggie, you’re full of shit. We know you’re full of shit! You know you’re full of shit, so let’s to some fact. Now where did you get the gun?”
“Look, man, I’m jus’ tryin’ t’ help you out, man!”
“You can help us out, Reggie, by telling us where you got the gun. Or you can go down for another felony. Go down for a felony, or tell us what we want to know and maybe walk away with some of the reward money.”
“You get me some o’ that reward money?”
“That’s what I said, Reggie.”
“Okay, his name is Gerard. He a white dude.”
O’Hinn and McAvery make the arrangements with Reggie to get Gerard into the precinct. Meanwhile, having had some time to herself (and waiting for IAB to come and interview her), Laverne calls O’Hinn’s place to talk to Veronica. They chat for a while. Veronica is enjoying the place enough, but she’d rather be at home where she could go out with her friends. Over the course of the talk, Veronica lets it slip that Mr. Danning died at the hospital from his injuries.
Laverne is livid! After getting off the phone with Veronica, she tracks down O’Hinn and the two get into an all-out shouting match in the hall by the stairs.
“What, do you think I’m a child?” she demands in a fit of pique. “You couldn’t tell me—“
“You’re not on this investigation, I couldn’t tell you!”
“I’m your goddamn partner, Thom! You know what this means to me! You don’t keep something like that from me!”
Finally Lt. Epstein storms out of his office, “Alright, that’s enough from both of you! I said that’s enough! Back into your corners—the both of you! Kowalski, aren’t you supposed to be riding a desk! O’Hinn, go find that fucking gun! The rest of you, get back to work! I’m tire of all o’ your shit!” And with that he slams his office door shut with the venetian blinds leaping precariously almost off the door and the glass shimmering. O’Hinn heads to his desk. Kowalski grabs her coat and walks out.
“I’ll be back,” she says fiercely, and then storms out.
Once outside, Kowalski heads to the Roman Catholic Church of the Epiphany, nearby on the same street as the precinct. She walks into the cathedral area, and pausing only to genuflect before the altar, heads for a confessional booth.
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” she says in a rush, crossing herself. “It has been one month since my last confession.”
And Laverne pours out the story to the priest, including all her fears and guilt. She receives the comfort that she needs in this, her time of personal crisis. It turns out to be a very good thing for her.
Meanwhile the rest of the squad has to deal with a fuming O’Hinn who looks up fierce when spoken to and snaps heads off at the drop of a hat. Final reprieve comes when Mr. Gerard Fawkes is brought in to the precinct. He is a greasy looking man in an old army jacket, with long, unkempt red hair and a scraggly looking beard.
Wasting no time O’Hinn and McAvery go at him fairly hard. They get him talking in no time. He is not a very hardened man. He saw what happened and got scared. Two white cops just shot a black guy, and here he was, a white guy on the street. He saw the gun fly out the window and grabbed it in case anything went down. He brings up the riot that occurred to prove he was right. But at last he gives a corroborating account of the shooting:
“The guy that got shot was hasslin’ with the red-headed cop drivin’ the car. He shoves a gun at her. Then the blonde cop, she goes divin’ across the-the red-headed cop an’ blows this guy away. The gun goes flyin’ out the window, right? An’-and then it land right on the curb next to me. An’ then I, you know, I picked it up. An’ then I got the fuck out of there!”
“What’d you do with the bullets?”
“There weren’t no bullets. I give it to you jus’ like I found it.” He gives a goofy laugh. “I-I guess the brothers wouldn’t be too happy ‘bout that, when they found that out, neither.”
O’Hinn and McAvery have Mr. Fawkes write up his statement with a promise that the DA will drop the case of felony sale of a stolen firearm against him and arrange to get him the remaining $250, after having given the rest to Reggie for his cooperation.
Kowalski is in the clear with IAB for the shooting, though she still has to live with having killed a man. At least the precinct can get back to business. Kowalski asks the Lou for some lost time. She needs it to straighten herself out over this whole mess. He agrees to let her go. She also goes to settle the matter between herself and O’Hinn. Then she heads home.
Eager to get back to work, Det. Shirley asks McAvery to take her to the Murray Hill address of the missing person case. She wanted to check out the area where the mysterious video took place.
Shirley tries to get herself some quiet time, but finds that she can’t shake McAvery. She’ll just have to deal with his strange questions. Det. Shirley has a gift. She can see impressions left in an area sometimes. This gift has helped her solve many cases and is the reason for her excellent closure rate with the department.
She stops in the lobby and finds the area she thinks the victim was when she was mysteriously pulled away by an unseen force. It takes her some times to concentrate, but an image does finally come:
The image of a man, but he’s undefined. A dark man. Intense eyes. Teeth. He is biting her. She is dizzy, feeling weak. She is very aroused. Very, very aroused! Then the words ignoblis ritae.
Det. Shirley comes out of her trance, her brow wet with perspiration and her face flushed. She looks around nervously and forces her breathing to steady. The sensations from her vision are still with her. She is suddenly very glad she is wearing a coat to hide her chest at the moment. Once she has settled herself, she finds McAvery to take her to the apartment. He gives her a strange look, but takes her to the apartment.
Det. Shirley doesn’t get as much from the apartment. At least she gets a little insight in to what got the girl out of her apartment. The only impression she gets is that she thought her boyfriend was in trouble. She suggests that they get the LUDs for her phone to check.
The day ends as McAvery and Shirley had back to the precinct.
But that night, Felicity has one of her nightmares:
Flashes of the dark man appear. Teeth. Intense eyes. Glowing red eyes. A room in a run-down building. People are gathered around in a circle. They sway as if in a ritual. Others are hanging from the ceiling. The dark man is there. There is the flash of a knife, cutting the throat of one of the people hanging upside down. Blood splatters across the floor. Blood drains into a bowl. The group in the circle all drink from it. Blood runs down their chins and necks in thin red rivulets. It is an orgy of blood!
Felicity wakes up screaming in her bed. She looks around. She is alone.