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When an officer out of uniform is killed one night by a patrolman, the CSIs must determine if it was an accident or not. Complicating the case is the race of the victim, black, the race of the officer, white, the neighborhood of the shooting, largely black, witness testimony that the officer shot the victim when he was already down, and the prior bad history between the two officers.

Episode Info

Episode number: 10x4
Production Number: 1004
Airdate: Thursday October 15th, 2009

Alternate Airdates:

UK (Channel 5) Feb 02, 2010
NL (RTL 4) Mar 29, 2010


Special Guest Stars
Jorja FoxJorja Fox
As Sara Sidle

Guest Stars
Marc VannMarc Vann
As Conrad Ecklie
Larry Mitchell (1)Larry Mitchell (1)
As Officer Mitchell
Joseph Patrick KellyJoseph Patrick Kelly
As Officer Metcalf
Enrique MurcianoEnrique Murciano
As Det. Carlos Moreno
Cassidy FreemanCassidy Freeman
As Officer Donna Grayson
Adina PorterAdina Porter
As Denise Devine
Andres Saenz-HudsonAndres Saenz-Hudson
As Rogelio Martinez
Clint CulpClint Culp
As Mike Ithaca
Eli VargasEli Vargas
As Anthony Lopez
Jack BlessingJack Blessing
As Officer Danny Finn
Marcus T. ThomasMarcus T. Thomas
As Angry Man
Sean HamptonSean Hampton
As Deputy Carver
Stan ShawStan Shaw
As Geoff Johnson
Vincent King Jr.Vincent King Jr.
As Avery Devine
Main Cast
George EadsGeorge Eads
As Nick Stokes
Eric SzmandaEric Szmanda
As Gregory "Greg" Sanders
Robert David HallRobert David Hall
As Dr. Albert "Al" Robbins
Wallace LanghamWallace Langham
As David Hodges
David BermanDavid Berman
As Dr. David Phillips
Marg HelgenbergerMarg Helgenberger
As Catherine Willows
Laurence FishburneLaurence Fishburne
As Dr. Raymond Langston
Liz VasseyLiz Vassey
As Wendy Simms
Paul Guilfoyle (1)Paul Guilfoyle (1)
As Captain Jim Brass
Episode Notes
At the beginning of the episode, when Nick is looking at the 38 Special revolver, he indicates how many rounds the dead suspect fired. He does this by looking at the indentations in the bullet casings left by the firing pin. Five bullets in the revolver, four of them are indented, one pristine.

There is no "White House Burgers" in Las Vegas. The name does echo the popular chain called White Castle.

An unusually minor part for Cassidy Freeman, who has been one of the main cast on Smallville for the last two seasons.

Episode Quotes
Officer Danny Finn: I was the driver on patrol, heard gunfire, called it in, responded, saw the suspect with a gun firing in a southwest direction. Told my partner to call for backup. Fearing for someone's life I exited the vehicle and engaged the suspect. I fired 3 rounds, the suspect went down, I approached, kicked the gun away, handcuffed him. (shakes his head) 25 years on the job, Jim. First time I ever had to fire my weapon.

Nick: (picking up an empty casing) Nine millimeter cartridge case. Consistent with witness statements.
Ray: And inconsistent with the officer's statements...

Ecklie: Sara. Glad to see you back.
Sara: (acknowledging his presence, a bit coldly) Eckley...
Ecklie: How was your week off in Paris?
Sara: Dr. Grissom sends his regards. Were you able to make notification?
Ecklie: Johnson's only next of kin is his father, looks like he's out of town...
Sara: Any word on what Johnson was doing down there?
Ecklie: Well, according to Johnson's captain, he was off-duty, Adams street isn't in his district, he wasn't working undercover, and he had no informants.
Sara: So, no official reason to be there... Which is why you are here.
Ecklie: (walks into the morgue) Maybe Sgt. Johnson was just looking for a good burger.
Al: I doubt it. Look at his body fat. Not the usual yellow-orange color.
Sara: It's white. He was a vegetarian.
Ecklie: So what was he doing in a burger joint?
Sara: (nods head in agreement of the significance of the question) Do you have the third bullet? (looks at it) Nine mil.
Al: Lodged in his left kidney. Not immediately fatal. Same as the one shot through his left thigh. (points to the thigh, then moves to the chest) This one's your COD. Back to front. Penetrated the inner ventricular septum near the base of the heart. That's the area concerned with its electrical conduction.
Sara: Kinda like flipping the main breaker.
Al: Heart would have stopped immediately.
Ecklie: So it must have been the final shot. Does the trajectory tell you if he was standing or prone?
Al: That is the question of the night.... And I can't give you an answer. You know, in ancient times, a coup-de-grace is considered an act of mercy. A quick blow to end the suffering of a comrade wounded in battle.
Sara: Whatever this was, it was no act of mercy.

Catherine: Do you have the dispatch calls from Officer Finn's patrol car, yet? (Dispatcher looks unhappy) Is there a problem? (pause) Deputy?
Dispatcher: No, ma'am. But Officer Finn's mike was stuck in the open position.
Catherine: Happens all the time, might be helpful, let's hear it.
Playback: Grayson, get the hell down. Call for backup, now! (you hear Grayson in the background calling for help. Then two shots, then, breathlessly) I'm taking him down. Black son of a bitch! (then a final shot, after a significant delay)

Jim: (entering the interview room, clearly furious) I put my credibility on the line for you. The CSI's said "excessive force" I said, "No way!"
Officer Danny Finn: That's right.
Jim: Oh, really? (plays the tape of his utterances in the field)
Finn: I don't remember saying that.
Finn's Attorney: I'm advising you not to speak, not until we hear the complete recording and check the witness statements.
Finn: You think I'm racist?
Finn's Attorney: Again officer, I'm telling you...
Finn: (ignoring him)I don't remember, if I said he was black I was describing the suspect, I was so focused on what the gun was doing I...
Jim: Did you see his face?
Finn: No, it was dark out.
Jim: Are you telling me you didn't recognize Scott Johnson? He was a trainee, he rode with you. He was your damned partner for four months. He spent eight hours a day in the car together. You saw more of him than you did of your wife.
Finn's Attorney: This was over five years ago...
Jim: So you're telling me, that you didn't recognize the guy who put a formal complaint in your file? For racial discrimination? Let me read this to you: (reading from the file) "Frequent and excessive use of racial epithets, including the 'n' word"
Finn: First of all, no. I didn't recognize Johnson. And second, yeah, sure. I used street talk with the trainees...
Jim: (shaking head) C'mon, you know that doesn't fly any more.
Finn: ...but believe me. Whatever they get from me is nothing compared to what they're going to get from the real gorillas in the jungle.
Finn's Attorney: Poor choice of words.
Finn: I am training them for the real world! And of the dozens and dozens of people that I have trained, and that is every color of the rainbow, pal, that hardass was the only one who ever complained. The only one. He's the racist, not me.

Nick: Brass found out that Finn put in for a promotion about a year ago. It was denied. A couple weeks later, Finn saw Johnson at another officer's retirement party, he took a swing at him.
Catherine: Finn probably thought he deserved a desk job and a bigger pension, and blamed Johnson for not getting it.

Ray: You know, there was a study done back in Michigan about a year or so ago. It, ah, examined an officer's response to situations involving deadly force and whether race is a factor. It found that an officer has less than a third of a second to decide whether to use his gun.
Nick: That's not much time...
Sara: It's enough for an instinctive response.
Ray: Yes, but the study showed, overwhelmingly, that the most important factor in the officer's response is the suspect's actions, not race. I'm not talking about 'racial profiling' -- that's a whole other box of crayons. I'm talking about that third of a second, when a threat jumps out at you... (bangs a filing cabinet, startling everyone, and making Catherine jump) When I had a gun pulled on me, I didn't check for skin color, before I pulled the trigger. Finn's motives are not what we're after. Just the evidence that's going to tell us about his actions. (Sara quirks a corner of a smile in approval, seeing Grissom's "just the evidence" approach in Ray)

Sara: If there's a bullet in his ass, his ass is evidence.

David: (examining the body) They say a suicide attempt is a cry for help, but from the size of this hole, I'd say we have an admission of guilt.

Catherine: Finn took action in the line of duty, and Johnson was just trying to help a kid at risk.
Nick: So where's the bad guy in this?
Raymond: (shrugging helplessly) You tell me...

Cultural References
Title: Coup de Grace

A "coup de grace" is a blow that kills, usually in a merciful sense, to end suffering.

Episode References
Ray: When I had a gun pulled on me, I didn't check for skin color before I pulled the trigger.

A reference to Ray's use of deadly force in self defense during the previous season's finale, "All In (9x24)".

This episode handles the racial component very well. In lesser hands it would have been a clear cut, simple case of race relations or something the like, with all the cheap dramatic tension and overblown melodrama such things can easily muster. Such writing is easy, trite, and hackneyed -- and way too common even these days in dramatic shows, especially ones on their tenth seasons.

The writers rose above that, and told a complex story which acked racial concerns without handing out easy, "pat" answers or heavy-handed moralism. They showed how it can appear one way, racially, on the surface but actually have far more complex and subtle underlying factors which make it anything but simple. Real life is like that.

The easy answers aren't usually the right ones -- life is rarely that simple and predictable -- and the driving events behind actions and the motivating factors behind people are complex and subtle.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorAnthony E. Zuiker
Main Title ThemeThe Who
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