It's a somewhat regular script these days. Two white police officers stop a vehicle occupied by two black men driving down a city street, within the speed limit, for no apparent reason. The black driver of the car ends up getting killed by a white cop. To complicate matters, the other black man in the car is a Chicago cop working undercover to bust up a heroin ring. The February 6 episode of NBC’s Chicago P.D. added another twist to the tale, though. In “Night in Chicago,” two men running for Mayor try to play the death of the black man to their own political advantage.
It all begins with black City Alderman Ray Price (Wendell Pierce) tipping off Hank Voight (Jason Beghe), the commander of the CPD intelligence unit, about a heroin ring. They operate in his ward and he wants them gone. “It’s not good for Chicago,” Price tells Voight. He points out that black lives are lost. The real reason, though, is that the kickbacks paid to Price has been less than he expects. Officer Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins) infiltrates the ring working undercover.
Meanwhile, Police Superintendent Brian Kelton (John C.McGinley), a candidate for Mayor, meets with Alderman Price to secure a public endorsement from him. Price isn’t about to endorse him – “you’re bad for my brand.” Though he likes Kelton, “Ain’t no way in hell I can tell anyone, let alone endorse your white ass.” When Voight arrives and Kelton leaves, Price gives Voight the address of the stash house used by the heroin ring.
As he works undercover, Atwater develops a relationship with the heroin dealer’s right-hand man, Daryl. Atwater arranges for another member of the intelligence unit, Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda), to play the source of heroin for the big dealer. On the way to meet Dawson, Atwater and Daryl are pulled over by two white cops on patrol. Daryl is unarmed, at the request of Dawson, and other members of the intelligence unit are following behind. Voight insists that Atwater remain undercover and play it out. During the traffic stop, the racial bias from one of the officers, Officer Doyle, becomes apparent. It takes a deadly turn when the dispatcher alerts the police about a nearby robbery.
Officer: Pull the vehicle to the curb. Now.
Daryl: You can't be serious. We're barely going 20 miles an hour.
Hailey: What the hell is going on? They're 20 yards from the meeting spot.
Doyle: We got Illinois tags. It's George-Paul-9-2-1-John-1.
Officer: Turn your car off, sir. What's up, guys? Where you headed?
Daryl: Visiting a friend.
Officer: This friend got a name?
Atwater: May I ask what this is about, Officer?
Doyle: No, you may not. You just answer the question and keep your hands where I can see 'em.
Atwater: Name is Tony.
Doyle: Right, two brothers visiting a Dago? It doesn't ring true, homie.
Officer: Come on, Doyle. Hey, guys...
Halstead: What the hell?
Officer: Just doing our job.
Halstead: Hey, Sarge, are you hearing this?
Voight: Everybody stand down, just let it play out. Hopefully, these guys don't burn Atwater, blow this whole thing up.
Officer: Any guns, knives, drugs?
Atwater: We do not, like he said, we're just visiting a friend.
Doyle: Yeah, right. Tony, right? So, what are you gonna do when you get there? Make some linguini? Huh? Hey, when I ask you a question, I want an answer and eye contact.
Dispatcher: Units in the 29 and units on the citywide, an armed robbery just occurred at 1344 Luther Drive. Offenders are described as male, black, late 20s, approximately six-foot tall.
Doyle: Out of the car, nice and slow. Hands where I can see 'em.
Officer: Let's go guys, out of the car now. We're gonna need to search you.
Doyle: You boys do that robbery over on Luther Drive?
Atwater: We certainly did not, and we're not boys, Officer, we're men.
Doyle: What did you just say to me?
Atwater: I said we're men.
Officer: Yo-- - Yo, hey, man.
Doyle: You feel like a man now, huh? Don't get cute with me. Let's go, back at the car, let's go.
Daryl: We didn't even do nothing.
Atwater: Listen, Officer, I don't have a problem letting you--
Doyle: Shut your mouth and keep your hands on--
Daryl: What's your problem, man?
Doyle: Face forward, do not look at me.
Ruzek: This is going sideways. What are we doing here?
Voight: Stand down. Let Atwater handle it.
Officer: Hands, let's go. Let's go. Hands.
Doyle: Hey, you shut 'em up. Put in the back of the car.
Daryl: Hey, man, what the--what's your problem, man? You've been buggin' this whole time.
Doyle: Hey! Hey! Let me see your hands!
Daryl: We were just driving on the goddamn street. We were just driving on the damn street.
Atwater: Daryl, just do what he says, okay?
Doyle: Now, get on the ground. Get on your knees now.
Daryl: I ain't getting on my knees.
Doyle: I will not ask you again. Final warning. - Let me go in.
Atwater: Talk to your partner, man. Try and control him.
Doyle: Get your black ass on your knees right now.
Daryl is shot and killed at the scene. As you’d imagine, Atwater is upset about how everything went down. He chalks it up to being the outcome of “driving while black.” He decides to speak up and make a difference. “This has got to stop,” he tells Voight.
Voight speaks with Police Superintendent Kelton who is upset that an undercover officer was working at the scene when a young black man was shot by a white cop. Kelton says Atwater will have to take the fall if the investigation goes sideways. He says Atwater should have deescalated the situation.
As Voight leaves the building, he sees a Black Lives Matter protest and Alderman Price is there, bull horn in hand, leading the chants. Price wants to enter the race for Mayor now and encourages Atwater to manipulate his story to the investigators and “be strong.” “Do what’s necessary to punish these racist punks” is what he tells Atwater.
Alderman Price: Congratulations on taking down Phil Gamble. Ooh, that son of a bitch has been a pain in my ass for years.
Atwater: Well, I'm glad we can help.
Atwater: I'm assuming that's not why you called me down here.
Price: No. I wanna talk to you about the police shooting. Your statement will carry a lot of weight... will add lots of important context to a complicated situation. So, as you begin to sort through things, I wanna make sure you feel protected.
Atwater: Protected from what?
Price: The truth, your truth... Whether or not it actually is the truth.
Atwater: You're asking me to lie?
Price: No, I'm asking you to be strong. To do what's necessary to punish these racist punks who killed one of our own for no reason.
Atwater: Good to see you again, Ray.
Price: Oh, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.
Atwater: Why is it so important to you? You the one who told us to go after Daryl in the first place. Thought you couldn't stand his ass, remember?
Price: I did. And the truth is, I don't give a damn about his death. But I do care about a white cop killing a black man for no reason.
Atwater: There's a video out there that shows Daryl lunging for that gun. It's tough to get around.
Price: You don't have to worry about none of that. You just speak your piece. I've done research on this cop, Doyle. He's got a track record. He's been written up for using the 'N' word before. So, you are gonna tell Copa that you heard him use the word, that he told his partner he was gonna "Take care of those black boys" the second he got out of his patrol car. And we'll be fine. We'll have intent, nullify that video you're worried about. This isn't about you anymore, Kevin. This is about the future of Chicago.
Atwater: Future of Chicago?
Price: Mm-hmm. I've decided I'm gonna run for Mayor. And this is the thing that's gonna get us elected.
Well, at least the corrupt Alderman admitted that all this had nothing to do with a black man being shot and killed but about his run for office. So much for "Black Lives Matter." Note that he wanted Atwater to introduce the N-word into the scenario, too, that would be sure to enflame things.
In the end, Atwater told the truth and then went to tell the racist cop, Doyle. While Doyle was relieved to be off the hook with the police department, Atwater took care of Doyle’s punishment himself. He took him into the alley behind the bar they were in and beat the crap out of him. Let’s hope the lesson was learned.