In Peter Stone's world, everything is simple and straightforward.
For him, all good people have to do is cooperate with investigations and testify against criminals and the world will be a safer place.
Except, as he learned the hard way on Chicago Justice Season 1 Episode 10, it doesn't always work that way.
Stone risked the life of one young child to try to get justice for another and may have weakened Constitutional protections to shut down the cell phone accounts of suspected gang members.
Even after the tragic results of all this, has Stone learned his lesson?
Stone was driving me nuts with his simplistic world view throughout "Drill." He wasn't the only one, though.
From the beginning of the hour, there seemed to be an undertone of racism in this story.
The pre-credits sequence was designed to make viewers think Ernest Williams was some random violent dude with a gun, and it was effective. When it was revealed he just wanted to sell the gun to be able to buy his nephew a clarinet, I was as disturbed as I was relieved.
I had to ask myself if I would have expected him to be a criminal rather than a family man making the best of a bad situation if he was white.
Man: I'd like to give back a gun.
Dawson: Where'd you serve?
Man: Iraq. [waits while gun is removed from bag] I was sweating bullets. If I got stopped with that thing...
Dawson: It's jammed.
Laura: Let me see it.
Man: I still gonna get the money even though it's broke?
Dawson: Of course.
Man: Good. I wanna buy my kid a clarinet. I figured this'll get me enough for a used one.
[Laura looks at barrel]
Laura: You see that?
Dawson: You're gonna have to come with us.
Man: Why? What'd I do?
Laura: That's blood splatters. We're pretty sure your gun has a body on it.
Of course, it didn't really matter that Williams was an Iraq war vet trying to do right by his young nephew since when the gun was suspected to have been used to hurt someone, he was quickly arrested.
That might have been protocol, though I did wonder how stupid a criminal would have to be to try to sell a recently-used murder weapon to the cops.
But Dawson and Laura's interrogation of Williams' nephew, Andre, was problematic.
Andre: Is my uncle in some sort of trouble?
Dawson: That depends on what happens here. Your uncle found your gun.
Andre: What gun?
Laura: The one he found under your mattress.
Andre: I don't know nothing about any gun. I mean, if he found it, it's not mine.
Dawson: Did you shoot somebody?
Andre: Shoot somebody? No sir.
Dawson: If that gun was used in a shooting we're gonna find out about it. Now maybe we can help you but once we walk out of here, all bets are off. [pause]
Laura: Bad choice, Andre.
Dawson: Go back to class.
The investigators questioned Andre without the presence of either an attorney or one of his guardians, and I'd bet anything they didn't inform him of his rights. They basically implied that if he didn't confess to using that gun for an illicit purpose, his uncle would go to jail and it was his fault.
This is standard procedure on Chicago Justice, of course. The investigators are always questioning someone without any respect for their Constitutional rights in order to get at the truth. But it bothered me more that they were coercing a young kid into making what ultimately would have been a false confession.
Later, the investigative team did the exact same thing to get Williams to admit Keo had been to the apartment. They threatened to arrest Andre if Williams didn't provide an explanation that made sense for that gun being in his room.
For all they knew, Williams made the story up about Keo to get the pressure off Andre. They didn't even ask Andre if what his uncle was saying was true before they went after Keo.
Valdez: I can't go across the hall without taking my cell phone.
Stone: But you're not using it to light up members of a rival gang.
Valdez: Maybe there's a way to do it more surgically. File complaints with the social media apps they're using.
Stone: I can name 10 messaging apps off the top of my head. These gang members can migrate from one to another as easily as I can open a beer.
Valdez: Whoa, it was just a thought.
Stone: This city's buried too many of its children.
I know a little girl died and Stone wanted to get justice for her family, but did all of this trampling of people's rights really help anything? Ultimately, Williams ended up dead, the court made a ruling about cell phones that might have set everybody's Constitutional rights back, and who knows what happened to Andre.
Stone seemed to have little understanding of why Williams was so afraid, and he really wasn't listening when the man tried to explain.
Valdez: We can get you protection.
Williams: Protection. I'm sure that sounds good from the comfort of your law office up here. But we're talking about the law of the streets. You think locking Keo up's gonna solve anything?
Stone: So where are you gonna go?
Williams: Andre and me'll stay with friends for a few days. After that, I don't know. I just gotta do whatever it takes to keep me and Andre alive.
He may have been right that testifying was the right thing to do, but he didn't take into account the importance of loyalty in the environment Williams was trying to protect his young nephew from. Andre was terrified of going to school because he knew the gang thought he'd snitched and wanted to hurt him.
But Stone dismissed that with a promise of protection that he couldn't deliver on.
Williams knew that wasn't how it worked, and that's why he didn't take him up on his offer. And then he ended up dead, apparently while buying that clarinet for Andre. I had to wonder if he took a bullet to protect his young nephew and whether Andre was safe.
I don't know if there were any real answers to any of this. From the second Williams decided to sell that gun to get a clarinet for Andre, he was probably doomed.
The cops wouldn't have known anything and Stackhouse would have gone to jail for a murder he didn't actually commit if he hadn't given the murder weapon to Dawson.
Jeffries: Let me tell you something. A couple years ago I went down to Tennessee to meet the lawyer that was helping my parents draft their wills. His walls were lined with paintings of trees. You wanna know why? He set out to paint every tree where a black man had been lynched. 300 years in the making of white kids killing black kids.
Stone: That doesn't mean that we can't make things better.
Jeffries: Better's gotta come from the inside. Not from politicians like me or do-gooders like you. You know, there's a lot of people who think nothing's gonna change til the mothers and fathers in my community start acting like mothers and fathers. Reading books, setting a few rules for their kids.
Stone: I didn't say that.
Jeffries: But you think it, don't you?
Stone: Guilty as charged. But you and I both know it's a lot more complicated than that.
As for the other half of the case, I don't think the problem was so much with the First Amendment but with the Fourth.
Certain types of speech, like speech inciting others to violence, is not protected by the First Amendment, and it was a bit odd that nobody pointed that out.
But everyone is, in theory, protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. Stone's probable cause on this was iffy. Jeffries pointed out that he was targeting mainly young men of color and this was just the high tech version of racial profiling. This was probably the best argument against his idea, yet it was barely touched upon in court.
The phone company seemed to rely on the principle that their business practices were private and the ACLU person argued for the right of free expression on social media. No one asked why Stone hadn't even made an effort to prove that the violence-inciting messages came from the phones of the people he wanted to shut down.
If only someone other than Jeffries, in the privacy of his office, had made the more compelling argument that racial profiling is racial profiling and that probable cause doesn't go out the window when the people in question are suspected gang members of color, the judge might have ruled differently.
Atwater: Hey, Keo! Come here for a sec. [shows badge]
Keo: I'm busy.
Atwater: Oh, you gonna make me come over there? All right. Let's see who all has a warrant.
[Keo comes over] Keo: What?
Atwater: These gentlemen are from the State Attorney's office. They wanna ask you a few questions about Stackhouse.
Keo: Stackhouse? He's locked up.
Dawson: Not anymore. He says you were with him a couple months ago over at Marshall when he shot that girl.
Keo: What? Check this! Stackhouse's tryin' to pin a case on me.
Stone: No one said anything about a case.
Keo: Y'all didn't come all the way out here for the scenery.
Dawson: Maybe we need to go somewhere to discuss this where we'll have your full attention.
Keo: You arresting me? Cause I didn't drill down nobody!
[Dawson and Stone walk away]
Keo: Oh, I guess black lives do matter.
Keo was an interesting character in light of the episode's themes. He was arrogant and acted as if the cops were just hassling him for no reason when he knew very well he'd committed a murder. But underneath all the bravado I saw a person desperate for some sort of power because he had none.
I thought his angry comment to the bailiff that he had no choice when he was asked to swear to tell the truth was telling of his mindset in general. I also wondered what it was like for him to be cousins with Andre, who everyone seemed to think was a model student and a good kid they were desperate to protect from gang influence.
I'd have liked to have seen some actual scenes between Keo and his cousin instead of just hearing about his relationship with Andre second-hand.
What did you think of "Drill?" Do you think Stone learned his lesson about oversimplifying? Did his battle to shut down suspected gang members' cell phones go too far?
Weigh in below, and don't forget you can always watch Chicago Justice online if you missed anything.