Enemy Within (Butch Karp Series #13)

Enemy Within (Butch Karp Series #13)

by Robert K. Tanenbaum
Enemy Within (Butch Karp Series #13)

Enemy Within (Butch Karp Series #13)

by Robert K. Tanenbaum


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Acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Robert K. Tanenbaum ratchets up the suspense with an authentic and morally complex mystery set deep inside the New York City police department.

When a black man is shot multiple times in the back on the streets of New York by an NYPD golden boy, chaos erupts throughout the city. And in an election year -- a year of secret handshakes and politically motivated favors -- no one feels the pressure more than the men and women who vow to protect and to serve. For Butch Karp, chief assistant district attorney for New York County, bullet holes aren't the only holes in this volatile case, nor in a second shocking puzzle...
A slow-witted young man faces the death penalty for murdering a Jewish diamond merchant. Karp is quickly learning that politics mean a lot more than justice when it becomes apparent certain higher-ups would rather whitewash the truth than lose the Jewish vote. Add a serial killer who is murdering the homeless to Karp's daily grind, and it's clear he is surrounded by high-profile time bombs that are promising to blow the city to its core.
To make matters worse, Karp's wife, Marlene Ciampi, has become independently wealthy thanks to the Internet stock boom and has decided to enjoy her newly acquired fortune through manic shopping sprees and free-flowing alcohol. Plus, his daughter, Lucy, is skipping school to feed the homeless not far from where the slasher stalks his prey. Desperate to stop the violence before it touches his family, Karp must wade through a system of corruption and conspiracy that threatens to silence his pursuit of the truth...forever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743469913
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 02/13/2024
Series: Butch Karp Series , #13
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 131,159
File size: 712 KB

About the Author

About The Author
Robert K. Tanenbaum is the author of thirty-two books—twenty-nine novels and three nonfiction books: Badge of the Assassin, the true account of his investigation and trials of self-proclaimed members of the Black Liberation Army who assassinated two NYPD police officers; The Piano Teacher: The True Story of a Psychotic Killer; and Echoes of My Soul, the true story of a shocking double murder that resulted in the DA exonerating an innocent man while searching for the real killer. The case was cited by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren in the famous Miranda decision. He is one of the most successful prosecuting attorneys, having never lost a felony trial and convicting hundreds of violent criminals. He was a special prosecution consultant on the Hillside strangler case in Los Angeles and defended Amy Grossberg in her sensationalized baby death case. He was Assistant District Attorney in New York County in the office of legendary District Attorney Frank Hogan, where he ran the Homicide Bureau, served as Chief of the Criminal Courts, and was in charge of the DA’s legal staff training program. He served as Deputy Chief counsel for the Congressional Committee investigation into the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He also served two terms as mayor of Beverly Hills and taught Advanced Criminal Procedure for four years at Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, and has conducted continuing legal education (CLE) seminars for practicing lawyers in California, New York, and Pennsylvania. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Tanenbaum attended the University of California at Berkeley on a basketball scholarship, where he earned a B.A. He received his law degree (J.D.) from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. Visit RobertKTanenbaumBooks.com.

Robert K. Tanenbaum is the New York Times–bestselling author of twenty-six legal thrillers featuring Butch Karp and his crime-fighting wife, Marlene Ciampi. Before publishing his first novel, Tanenbaum had an accomplished legal career. He served as bureau chief of the Criminal Courts, ran the Homicide Bureau in New York City, and was deputy chief counsel to the Congressional Committee Investigations into the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. He has also served two terms as the mayor of Beverly Hills.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

They were having lunch at four in the morning, sitting in the unmarked, a black Dodge Fury double-parked on the south side of Forty-seventh Street just west of Tenth. Nash, in the driver's seat, had a couple of chili dogs and a can of Pepsi. Next to him, Cooley was eating an Italian hero and drinking a large white coffee. It was early March and chilly, with a persistent rain, and they had left the engine running and turned on the wipers and the defroster. The car was warm, the windows were clear.

Infrequently, for it was a Sunday night, a car came down the street, slowing to pass the unmarked, and when that happened, both men stopped eating. Nash checked the rearview, and Cooley craned his neck and looked behind him and followed the vehicle as it splashed past. They were looking for a particular car, a van actually, dark blue with white lettering. It belonged to a guy -- whom some other guy had told a third guy about -- who was planning to run in tonight from Virginia with a big load of pistols and automatic rifles to a place on Forty-seventh between Ninth and Tenth. Three other cars were stationed at various places around this part of Manhattan, so that if the guy slipped past the anticrime team that was setting up to make the grab, and ran, there would be cars in position to block the escape.

Nash stole a glance at his partner, who had not said five words since coming back to the car from the all-night joint with their meal. Cooley's brow was flexed, and his jaw was working rather more than crushing an Italian hero strictly required, indicating a certain tension. Cooley did not like being in a blocking car. No, Detective Cooley preferred to be the first one through the door, pistol out, yelling "Freeze, freeze!" or some other hearty police exclamation. While Willie Nash considered himself as brave as it was necessary for an NYPD detective to be, and while no one had ever accused him of not pulling his load, he freely conceded that his partner was in a different class altogether in the guts department. Not exactly crazy, because Nash, who had a wife and three, would not have worked with a nut, but definitely on the unusual side. At thirty-two, Nash, though four years older than Cooley, operated as the junior partner, which he did not mind, really. It suited his flamboyant personality, and he liked the reflected glory and the lush collars you got when you hung around Cooley. Nash told himself that his part of the deal was watching Brendan's back -- a full-time job in itself -- and keeping something of a lid on the younger man's more outrageous impulses. He wondered now if Cooley was pissed at him for not doing something about the Firmo disaster, that failure being one reason why they were not on point tonight, but really, Nash thought, as he completed his first chili dog, what could he have done? First of all, Cooley had been --

"Jesus! That's him. There's that motherfucker!" cried Cooley. Nash looked to his right, startled. A late-model SUV was slipping by, red, an Explorer or a Jeep.


"Lomax, who do you think? Let's go!"

"Cooley, we're supposed to stay here until -- "

"We'll be right back. Come on! Roll!" Cooley tossed his coffee out the window and the remains of his sandwich down into the footwell. Nash put the car in gear and headed after the SUV, which he now saw was a Cherokee SE with New York plates.

"Nice car," he observed. "You sure it was Cisco?"

"I stared the fucker right in the face. Look at him! He's pretending nothing's wrong, just driving along under the limit in a car that's got to be fucking hot as hell. Give him the lights and siren."

Nash stuck the red flasher on the roof and goosed the siren, a quick moan. The next sound they heard was the scream of spinning tires slipping on wet pavement. The Jeep took off, fishtailing down Forty-seventh Street. Without thinking, Nash tromped on the gas, and the Fury leaped forward, dumping his chili dog and soda all over the front seat.

The light was red at Eleventh, but it was clear that the Jeep was going to run it, not a big surprise, and Nash did not brake either as they, too, shot through the intersection, drawing an outraged honk from a taxi. The Jeep made a big skidding right at Twelfth and headed uptown, Nash and the Fury on his tail, keeping a couple of lengths back, Nash now trying, through the pumping adrenaline, to take stock of the situation, gain some control. He should tell someone what they were doing. He should call for some backup. This was crazy. It was turning into a high-speed chase, on trail-slick roads; someone was going to get hurt, and not after some armed-bank-robber, mass-murderer type, but an asshole car-thief snitch...

Thinking thus, he still accelerated, now to ninety miles an hour. At Fifty-third right by the little park, they passed two blue-and-whites parked nose-to-tail for a conversation, and seconds later both of those radio patrol cars joined the pursuit, the radio crackling with demands to know what was going on. Nash did not respond because he was driving too hard. Cooley did not either, although it was his job. The Jeep screamed up onto the Henry Hudson. It suddenly became damply cold in the Fury. Out of the corner of his eye, Nash saw that Cooley had rolled his window all the way down.

"Closer!" he yelled over the wind blast.

Nash saw the needle pass a hundred miles an hour, the car shaking like a blender on the scabbed asphalt typical of the city's arterials, bits of chili flying around, his hands locked tight on the shuddering wheel, and then he saw that Cooley had his gun out, and he wanted to yell out something to make Cooley stop, but he had all he could do to keep the Fury from flying off the elevated highway. He should have stopped, he should have taken control, but he didn't, and he could not really have told anyone why, except that every cop in the world would have understood why not.

Nash brought the unmarked within five yards of the swerving Jeep, and Cooley began to shoot. Nash could hardly hear the flat crack of the shots, the wind filled the car so, and he lost count. He saw the rear window of the Jeep fly to pieces though, and the right rear tire come apart. The rear of the Jeep started to shimmy violently. Cooley was reloading. The Jeep drifted right, struck the guardrails, bounced back, went into a long sideways skid. Nash stepped on his brake and whipped the wheel over hard and felt, sickeningly, his rear tires break loose from the road and felt the tail of his vehicle proceed northward independently of the steering wheel. There was a grinding, metallic thump, a shudder, the scenery revolved, another crash. An enormous boom. The windshield of the Fury starred, buckled. Nash felt sharp things strike his face.

"Brendan! What the fuck...!" Boom. Cooley was firing through the windshield whenever the red shape of the Cherokee came into sight. Both vehicles were out of control, bouncing across the highway and past each other like dogfighters over blitz-time London. Then a louder crash and the red car disappeared -- no, there it was again for an instant -- another crash, and Nash saw a shower of sparks. After a time, Nash was able to bring the Dodge to a stop.

"Let's go!" Cooley shouted, and leaped from the car.

"Cooley! Goddammit! Will you wait?" Cooley did not, but ran into the dark. Nash left the unmarked, too, and found his shaking knees could barely support his weight. Shots, a bunch of them. Now he saw the Cherokee resting sadly on its right wheel rims against the left-side median barrier, with its snout pointed downtown. He saw that Cooley was running toward the stricken car in a combat crouch, firing as he went. Nash pulled out his own pistol and took in the scene. He thought he had time for that because no one seemed to be firing back at him. The unmarked had come to a stop north of the wreck. To the south, one of the blue-and-whites had stopped in the center lane, illuminating the scene with its flashing bubble-gum lights. The other blue-and-white had parked across the center lane, blocking traffic a hundred yards to the south. Good, Nash thought, at least someone was using his brain.

Then he heard the whick of a bullet flying by his head and the sound of a couple of shots not from Cooley's gun. He crouched instinctively and fired twice into the Cherokee. He saw that Cooley was creeping around the rear of the wreck, toward the passenger side. More shots. This was the negative part of being Brendan Cooley's partner. Bent almost double, with his pistol out in front of him, Nash trotted gamely toward the left side of the vehicle. Another shot cracked past, right in front of him, and the driver's-side rear window starred around a fat hole. Three more shots in rapid succession, and the windshield splintered. Oh, great! He screamed at the two cops in the blue-and-white to stop firing, nor was he polite about it.

An instant later he had his right shoulder pressed tight against the wet metal of the Cherokee's flank. He worked the door latch and swung the driver's door out, his pistol pointing. The upper torso of a man slumped down, its lower end held in the car by the seat belt. Nash stared at the face. It was, in fact, the well-known thief, fence, and general no-goodnik Cisco Lomax, Nash was relieved to observe, or rather the ex-well-known. The front of the man's tan sweater was black with blood, and big wads of distressed tissue bulged from his face and neck. The back of the driver's seat showed nearly a dozen little puffs of exploded filling, some still white, others as red as wound dressings; the windshield was a spiderweb, sagging in its frame.

Nash looked up and met the eyes of his partner through the passenger-side window.

"How is he?" asked Cooley.

"He's dead, Cooley."

"Are you sure?"

"He took one through the head and one through the neck. That usually does the job, plus about ten or so through the back of the seat. Hey, where are you...?"

Cooley had dashed off, back to their Dodge. Nash saw that he had the radio mike in front of his face. Calling it in. Good. And here were the two cops from the first blue-and-white.

"He's dead, huh?" said one of them. He was a slight, dark kid who looked about seventeen, hatless, his hair glued to his forehead by the rain. Franciosa was the name on his tag.

"Yeah. Was that you doing the shooting?"

"My partner. I didn't get one off."

"Good for you." Nash crooked a finger at the kid's partner, who seemed to be hanging back. The man came forward. He was a light-skinned black man a little older than Franciosa, inclined to be overweight, with a neat mustache. He stared at the hanging corpse.

"Is he...?"

"Dead," said Nash, "Yeah, who are you...Higgs? Higgs, why were you shooting bullets at me?"

"I wasn't shooting at you, Detective."

"You were, son. You might not have been aiming at me, but you were shooting at me. Did they train you on that weapon at the Academy?"

"Sure. But the way it was..."

"Well, when I was there, the instructor said, 'Always make sure of your target and what is behind it.' I recall it because he said it about five hundred times. I guess they left that part out when you went through. Did they?"

"No." Sullen now.

"I'm glad to hear it. That last shot of yours missed my head by about two feet. What were you firing at?"

"At the...at the car, you know, I thought..."

"At the car? You thought the vehicle was a danger to yourself or the public?"

"I mean the driver. Your partner was shooting like crazy, and I thought, you know..."

"That you would join in the fun. Well, you did put one through the passenger window, maybe killing the hostages back there..."

The cop gaped. "Oh, shit, I didn't now..."

"No, you didn't." A long pause. "But in this case there weren't any, which is your dumb good luck."

Why do I bother? Nash thought; let their sergeant give them the nickel lesson. Cooley was approaching, his head down, the collar of his blue nylon jacket up against the rain.

"You call it in?"

"Yeah." Cooley looked at the corpse and shook his head. "The bastard tried to ram us. I had no choice. He spun the car around and headed right toward us. A big fucking car like that would've gone through that Fury like a ball bat through a cream pie. Christ, the two of us would've both been strained through the fucking radiator grille. Stolen car, too. We saw the little fuck-head in a stolen car, and we pursued. And he tried to kill us."

Nash saw the two uniforms exchange a glance. He could see that they knew who Cooley was and that a subtle transformation was going on in their minds, the little neural charges deposited by memory being overwritten by the story Cooley was spinning now. They were recalling how the fleeing vehicle had spun around and become a deadly missile heading toward the unmarked, until Cooley had shot the life out of its driver, and look, the SUV had come to rest conveniently pointing south, the proper direction. Nash, too, was making the story happen in his mind, rather more self-consciously than were the two young cops, mainly because he had enough experience to understand how vulnerable the story was.

But...but just maybe it had happened that way. There had certainly been a lot of swerving around on the slick black road, and he had been totally consumed with keeping the Fury under control. He would go with it. The car had been stolen, the chase was legit. There was no point in dwelling on the fusillade Cooley had let off during the pursuit, or the shots fired after the car had stopped. Nash just prayed that some of the bullets had hit the son of a bitch from the front.

Afterward, it was the usual mob scene. The ambulance arrived first, and then the crime-scene people crawling around, marking and retrieving shell casings and taking photographs. Five minutes later there arrived a couple of extremely unlucky homicide investigators from the Twentieth Precinct, within whose jurisdiction the event (technically a homicide) had occurred. The two of them, a thin, scholarly-looking fellow with horn-rims and a small Hispanic man built like a fire hydrant, examined what they were supposed to examine -- the corpse, the corpse's vehicle, the surrounding highway, and the cops involved. The scholarly looking one grabbed a CSU photographer and directed her along the roadway, taking photographs of skid marks and guardrail scrapes, and of the bits of metal and glass lying on the road. He also pulled a big surveyor's tape measure from the trunk of his car and took a remarkable number of measurements. Meanwhile, his partner was directing another CSU person with a camcorder and light. They were walking slowly up and down the highway. The camcorder light beam pointed downward, and both men were bent slightly, as if making a nature film about the lives of roadway insects.

Soon after this investigation had begun, Cooley and Nash's shift lieutenant, Robert Maguire, drove up and looked around, carefully avoiding any contact with the two homicide detectives. He had a conversation with the four officers involved and then called the zone captain, James P. Robb, who was responsible for all detective work in a fat band across the West Side midsection of Manhattan. Robb had, of course, been in bed, and it had been a while since his last visit to a graveyard-shift crime scene, but he had driven in from the Rockland County suburb where he lived, arriving about half an hour later.

Robb took a look around, too, and spoke with Maguire, and also did not talk to the two homicide investigators, although they knew he was there. Every cop on the scene knew that the bosses had arrived. They all exerted themselves at their tasks with exemplary zeal.

Cooley repeated his story to Robb, using nearly the same words he had used with Maguire and the two homicide detectives. Nash and the patrolmen from the blue-and-white confirmed it in separate conversations with the two bosses. The bosses were not happy. It was late, it was raining, it was cold, and a news helicopter was swooping around above, making it difficult to converse and shining its light in everyone's eyes. Several news vans had also appeared, held back by the roadblock, but obviously sniffing blood. Robb called his superior, the borough detective commander, Deputy Chief Inspector Charles T. Gavin, and gave him the short version of what had happened. Gavin did not come himself, but demanded that a full report of the event be ready on his desk first thing that morning and told Robb to make a statement perfectly void of information to the press, and to tell them that a press conference would take place at One Police Plaza that morning, too late to make the morning shows and early enough so that there was a good chance something more newsworthy and gory would transpire before the evening local news. Robb supposed that Gavin would soon be on the horn with the chief of detectives. Good. Everyone should be pulled from the cozy covers by this abortion.

Robb returned his attention to it. It is a gigantic annoyance to the New York Police Department whenever one of its officers fires a gun in the line of duty. Cops say that the mass of paperwork generated by a police shooting weighs as much as the weapon that fired the shot. That annoyance becomes actual pain when the shot fired intersects any human flesh at all, except perhaps when the cop doing the shooting is obviously preventing a vicious, saliva-dripping felon from making off with a charming little girl, or similar. When the target dies, as here, and when the target is black and the shooter white, also as here, the pain reaches bone-cancer levels.

When they had finished speaking with the principals involved, Captain Robb pulled Lieutenant Maguire into the backseat of his car and asked, "What do you think?"

Maguire said, "Cooley's a good cop. Nash is very solid."

Robb sighed and said carefully, "I know that, Bob. I meant what about this piece of shit we got here, how are we going to play it?"

"Cooley said the perp charged him with the car. Deadly force. He acted to save his life and Nash's."

"That's the story we're going to go with?"

Maguire, like his immediate boss, was a comer in the department and understood the unspoken footnotes that hung from Robb's question. It is difficult to make captain before age fifty, as Robb had, without being able to speak and understand a language that none but other initiates can comprehend. Maguire confidently expected to make captain, too, within the next couple of years, and he was similarly fluent. Wanting another moment to think about it, he deflected with, "Have you called his old man yet?"

"No, I wanted to check the situation out myself and get our ducks in a row. Who's the stiff, by the way?" Robb was not pressing the question, yet.

"Lowlife. Not a citizen," said Maguire. "Got a nice sheet for grand theft and receiving stolen."


"No, sir, unfortunately not. And the minority thing, of course."

"Yeah. That's the bitch of it. But Nash is solid behind this?"

"Nash will hold up," said Maguire. "Like I said." A pause. "What I think, sir, is that we should let the system work here. We'll do the normal administrative in the department, take their testimony, the four of them, which will all be consistent, like we just heard out there. Chase of a stolen vehicle, perpetrator's attempt to ram pursuit vehicle, credible risk to officer's life, not to mention potential for harm to innocent drivers, fucking guy roaring the wrong way down the road. Officer fired, killing perpetrator. A righteous shooting, end of story. No deep probing, no reason to believe there was anything funny. Cooley's record is clean as a whistle. Never any paper on him, brutality or whatever. Racism? Hell, his partner's black. So we're fine there."

"There'll be a report," said Robb.

"Yeah, it's a homicide, sir. I would expect the detectives involved to write it up to the best of their ability without fear or favor."

"Just like always."

"Just. And then it's the DA's ball."

"Right. Who caught the homicide, by the way?"

"Steve Amalfi and Oscar Rivera."

Robb consulted the card file in his head that held the names of the hundred-odd detectives who worked in his fief. Nothing popped up, which was good. Had either of the homicide cops been a discipline problem, or a whistle-blower, or under the personal protection of some significant PD rabbi, Robb would have known about it. So he would have a clean, competent report, written by men who could, if it came to that, be burned. Which report no one in the department would read in great detail. There was so much paper passing across the desks of the bosses. The main thing was to ensure that if any shit started flying around behind this, none of it could stick to him or his. He thought he was pretty safe. He could in reasonable conscience convey to Deputy Chief Inspector Gavin the results of his preliminary investigation: a clean shooting -- fleeing felon, credible threat -- not another case of a half a dozen heavily armed white morons blowing forty or so holes in a crippled Negro deacon or an old Hispanic lady or a mentally retarded, minority twelve-year-old.

Let the system work; good advice. The system would work and bring forth a result pleasing to the department and to the decent middle-class majority for whom it labored. That was mainly what the system was for, in Robb's opinion. And he would call former chief inspector Ray Cooley and tell him that his younger son had killed a perp, but that the preliminary investigation was finding the shooting clean. And he would discreetly check on Amalfi and Rivera, too, to make absolutely sure they were solid, that they would also let the system work.

The system now cranked into gear. The deceased was brought to the morgue at Bellevue, there to be probed by the medical examiner, whose duty it is to determine the manner and cause of death. The New York medical examiner is one of the best forensic medical shops in the nation, but even the best shops have difficulty attracting qualified personnel. Cutting up corpses is not what attracts most students to medicine, and most graduates of American med schools do not care to labor for civil service pay. The office was therefore populated largely by foreign born and trained, among whom, now wielding his knife through the chest of Cisco Lomax, was Osman Mochtar. Dr. Mochtar was from Afghanistan. He had escaped with his family during the Russian war and made his way to Libya, where he had obtained a scholarship to study at Garyounis University in Benghazi. He had been in the United States, in New York, for nearly five years. He thought cutting up corpses was a great job; you did not have to speak English to them, nor did they ever lay upon you unbearable insult, as was the case on the one occasion when he had sought work with patients at a public hospital. He was not a diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Medicine.

Dr. Mochtar extracted eight bullets from the body of Cisco Lomax and traced the course of two more. He determined that the cause of death was massive trauma to the brain from a bullet that had entered five centimeters posterior to the right zygomati arch, pierced the temporal bone, traversed an upward course, and exited through the anterior, left frontal bone. Even without this coup de grØce, the subject, he concluded, was unlikely to have survived long. His seventh cervical vertebra had been shattered by a bullet that had torn through the spinal cord and exited from the right ventral surface of the neck, and there were two wounds in the left arm and six in the torso, the latter doing massive damage to the lungs and other internal organs. Dr. Mochtar dropped the last of these torso bullets into a kidney dish and handed it to the detective standing there. Detective Rivera bagged them in individual bags, sealed the bags, signed his initials and badge number over the seals, and had Mochtar sign them, too.

"So, tell me, Doc," said Detective Rivera, "you traced the path of these bullets, right?"

"Oh, yes. These and two others that I have not got here. They exit to outside, you know?"

"Uh-huh. And they came from the front, the back, what?"

"Oh, definitely all from back, posterior as we say. And perhaps, you see, a little to the side in these cases." The body was facedown. He indicated a wire sticking out of the skull wound, and another emerging from a black hole slightly to the left of the posterior midline of the neck. "The others are all directly from the rearward, except the shoulder wound, here at the left side. But this one to the skull is from the right, a fatal wound, do you see?"

"Right, got it."

Rivera left. Dr. Mochtar and a diener turned the body over, and Dr. Mochtar began to stitch up the corpse. The man had run from the police and had, most properly, been shot down. Dr. Mochtar did not think that a corpse shot in the back by police was worthy of much comment. Certainly he did not bring it to the attention of his superiors.

Some short time after the completion of the homicide detectives' report, at eight-forty the following morning, and its delivery up the chain of command, the police department notified the district attorney's office that a police officer had killed someone. The part of the DA where the phone rings in such cases is called the special investigations bureau. It is located on the seventh floor of an ugly Depression-era building at 100 Centre Street. The criminal courts are here, and the DA's office, and the Tombs, which is what New York calls its jail. Normal homicides go directly to the homicide bureau. On the sixth floor, homicide is staffed with several dozen ADAs who believe that they are the best in the business at bringing killers to justice. Whether or not they are, it is undeniable that they work daily with the police force, and of necessity form close relationships with homicide detectives, and so when a police officer is the killer, homicide does not get the case. Instead, it goes to the seventh floor, where the people in special investigations never work with the cops at all, if they can help it. If they can't, special investigations has its own little police force, made up largely of retired police. Its chief target is official corruption, but it is also called in when any arm's-length distance from the NYPD is required, as here.

The person who took this particular call, just after ten, was the chief of the bureau, a man named Lou Catafalco. The bureau chief took the call himself because the caller was Chief Inspector Kevin X. Battle, from the police commissioner's office, which was nearly as high as you can get in the political side of the NYPD and still wear a blue uniform. Battle had a reputation as the man they called in when things became messy. He had served three police commissioners and knew where all the bodies were buried. Catafalco was therefore alert for something interesting, and perhaps a little fetid.

After the usual guy entrée -- sports, their respective golf games -- Battle ushered in the main event. "Lou, why I called, we had a shooting last night, over on the Henry Hudson. Car chase, stolen vehicle, the actor attempted to ram the detective's car and he was shot. He died at the scene."

"Uh-huh. Okay, where's your guy? I'll send someone over right away."

"He's waiting for you at the Two-oh; but Lou? This is a little bit of a special case here."

Here it is, thought Catafalco. "Oh? Special in what way?"

"The officer involved is Brendan Cooley," said Battle, and paused to let that sink in.

"The poster boy."

"Him. So what we have here is not the kind of officer -- and you know and I know that in thirty-nine thousand we're going to get a few of those -- the kind that's heavy with his hands, that drinks, that's free with firearms. This is a splendid kid. He's got the police Medal of Valor, as you know, and here in this incident he risked his life to take down a dangerous felon."

"The deceased was a felon?"

"Yeah, a thief, a pro, sheet on him a yard long."


"Yeah, as it happens, but there again, you got a kid who's never had any trouble in that department. Now, Lou, I'm just telling you this as background. Obviously, we'll do our investigation, and you'll do yours independently. What I'm interested in here is doing the minimum damage to Detective Cooley's career. We need to get past this as smooth as we can."

Catafalco asked the obvious question. "How're they playing it?" He meant the press.

"Light. We had good control of the scene, the highway. Nothing in the News; the Times had a two-incher on A20. One mention on the metro part of the Today show. I don't think there's much to worry about on that end. Thug tries to kill cop, gets his, I think that's the story. I figure it to die pretty quick."

"There's the minority thing..."

"Yeah, that," said Battle smoothly, "but I'll tell you, Lou, the community will get cranky when it's a bad thing. Hell, we get cranky when it's a bad thing. The old lady, the kid with the water pistol shot in the back, the cop was drunk -- I'm talking gross violations. This, on the other hand...well, your guy will see Cooley and Nash, his partner, who by the way is black, and the witnesses, one of whom is also minority, as a matter of fact, and read the report, you'll come to your own judgment. Steve Amalfi handled the case out of the Two-oh, he'll confirm, of course. All I'm saying's we'd like the system to work extra smooth on this one, grand jury in and out, so the kid can get back to his life."

Catafalco agreed that this would be a good thing for the kid. After some brief pleasantries, he hung up. He sat and thought for a while, lacing his fingers across his pear of a belly. Catafalco was a tall, heavy, untidy man in his late fifties, with a yellowish complexion and a slick of hair across his domed and freckled pate. He had been bureau chief here for over ten years, and while he had not rooted official corruption out of the isle of Manhattan, neither had he made any major political mistakes nor stepped on any important toes. He understood at some level that he was a placeholder, and that his bureau did not attract sterling talent. Special investigations ran no trials and so did not attract the bright, aggressive, and ambitious from among the new young lawyers who entered the DA each year. These went into the trial bureaus and, after a few years, if they were very good, into homicide. Catafalco was content with the less talented. He told himself that you didn't want flashy people, standouts, in special investigations, not for the slow, dull, but vital work of checking bank accounts and contracts and the mind-rotting task of, say, listening to all the telephone conversations of some suspiciously well-off elevator inspector. He himself was a methodical man, and he liked the slow, steady accumulation of evidentiary particles that, when pasted together, might sink a judge or a welfare clerk. Or a cop. He rose heavily and walked out of his office. Who to send? He heard a door open and a young man appeared in the hallway, a chubby, shortish man with an unfashionable fifties shoe-clerk haircut.

The bureau chief crooked a finger and said, "Flatow, come in here. I got something for you to do."

Back in his office, Catafalco settled into his big maroon leather chair. "You ever work a cop shooting before?"

"A cop got shot?"

"No, George, a cop shot someone. A cop gets shot, it goes to homicide. A cop shoots someone, kills him, like in this case, we handle it here." Catafalco saw the worry bloom on the youth's face and hastened to calm him. "It's no big deal, this one. A car thief tried to ram a cop car and they took him out. Basically, what you need to do is go down to the Two-oh and interview some people, the cops involved, get their story. Also you'll want to talk to the homicide investigators on the case. They'll be there, too. It's all set up -- a boilerplate operation. Get the stories and schedule a grand jury session." Catafalco paused. "You ever present to the grand jury before?"

"Yeah, a couple of times, before they transferred me out of the trial bureau. But I never did a homicide."

"It's not a homicide," said Catafalco quickly, and then, "I mean, technically it is, there's a dead guy, but basically it's a formality in this particular case. The shooting's okay, no question of that. Our job is to process it through the system as clean as we can. In and out, ba-boom! Prep your witnesses, parade them up to the g.j., and get your no bill. You think you can handle that?"

"Sure, I guess." Flatow took a piece of paper out of his pants pocket, smoothed it on his knee, reached for a writing implement, found he had none, began to search again through the same pockets. The bureau chief, sighing inwardly, handed him a Bic. He then gave him the relevant names and a stringent time frame. Four grand juries -- two in the morning and two in the afternoon -- run continuously in New York County. It would not be hard to slip into one next week and get the whole thing over with.

Four hours later, when Flatow tapped on the door and stuck his head in, Catafalco was just getting ready to leave, for the special investigations bureau typically kept judge's hours, and he had a number of errands to run, including, in just twenty-three minutes, an appointment for a massage.

"You're back already," said the bureau chief. "How did it go?"

"No problems," said Flatow. "The cops' stories were all the same, so we won't have any conflict problems or like that. Cooley, the guy, the shooter, was pretty impressive. He'll be a good witness. He's some kind of hero, too, is what I understand."

"Yeah, he is," said Catafalco shortly. "What about the homicide report?"

"I got a copy. The guy, Amalfi, wasn't that forthcoming. He said anything he had to say was in the report."

"You read it yet?"

"I haven't read it in detail," said Flatow, who had, in fact, hardly looked at it before shoving it into his briefcase. The notion of reading the report before interviewing Amalfi and his partner, Oscar Rivera, had not occurred to him. "Basically, captain gave me a summary report that has all the major facts."

"Yeah, that's good; major facts is what we want. The main thing is not to confuse the grand jury with a lot of ifs and maybes. You'll probably want to play down the homicide report itself, concentrate on the testimony. Follow their summary. That should be enough. In fact, why don't you give the homicide report to me; I'll read it and have a copy run off for you."

After Flatow left, Catafalco checked his watch and flipped through the homicide report. It was a good one, complete and detailed, although he did not study the details. He did not have to. If a chief inspector called to tell special investigations that nothing was amiss, then something was very much amiss, indeed. A major favor would be owed the DA's office and him personally should this one slide by as planned. He checked the part of the report that described the dead man. As Battle had said, not a citizen, not a fellow to be much missed. It was unlikely to draw significant heat. Now the only issue remaining was to acquire merit in the eyes of the powers, and to derive some sweet personal juice from the affair. He checked his watch again. He just had time to make the call.

Copyright © 2001 by Robert K. Tanenbaum

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