Being a good soldier isn’t always a great thing.
After a tricky case involving a con man defending himself in court, Law & Order focused on a murder involving the military.
What looked like a death tied into some financial fraud turned out to be a case involving military maleficence.
That had the cops figuring things out, leading to a veteran who may have taken friendship too far.
A possible motive complicated the case, but that put McCoy and Price at odds on how to proceed.
Thus Chain of Command lived up to its title on how following orders can lead to some bad outcomes.
Financial fraud or was there another motive?
In a house, a man was nervously making himself a drink before heading outside to grab a smoke. He heard someone coming and said, “I’m sorry,” before he was shot.
Cosgrove and Shaw arrived at the scene to find Alexander Lockett shot dead with no signs of a robbery. He had been the financial officer for Finley & Madison, a department store having business problems.
Lockett was divorced, with his wife living in Australia, while Lockett was known as a veteran and a good guy. Yee found evidence someone had messed with the cameras to hide the shooting.
Lockett had been at a club the previous day with a date that ended in an argument. The woman, Dr. Denise Cohen (Jennie Eisenhower), was rocked to hear of the murder and said she and Lockett were getting serious. She admitted the two argued as Lockett was under stress but refused to say what it was about.
Lockett’s co-workers said he was a good guy, and it was not his fault the company was going under. He had gotten into a fight with the company CFO Sonya Chakrabarti (Dipa Anitia), who threw a paperweight at him while yelling about a secret Lockett had.
The cops stopped Sonya before she could get to the airport. She related that Alexander had inflated the company’s earnings to get a $350 million loan, which was fraud. She said Lockett was a good guy who just did what the CEO told him.
The CEO, Gideon De Hart (John Sloman), denied both the fraud and the murder, even as it was obvious he was at least guilty of the first crime.
Lockett’s daughter Melinda (Laura D’Andre) told them the one thing missing was her father’s Distinguished Service Cross for Lockett’s service in Iraq. Yee found a truck in the murder area belonged to Shane Risner, a soldier who’d been dishonorably discharged, and Lockett had overseen the court-martial.
But when the detectives checked on Risner, they discovered he’d killed himself three days earlier. They figured someone blamed Lockett for Risner’s death to go after Lockett.
They tracked Risner’s car to see Vincent Martinez (Kenneth Trujillo), a fellow soldier, attending Risner’s funeral. Cosgrove wanted to go in, but Shaw pointed out that arresting someone at a military funeral was a bad look.
They headed into the church to see Martinez pay respects to Risner’s family before taking off running. They gave chase to arrest him while Martinez denied the murder as he claimed he’d been attending a private memorial for Risner.
It turned out the man was already dying of health issues from his time in Iraq, and Martinez’s alibi checked out.
The D.A. vs. the military
DNA at the truck matched Luke Fallon (Trever Peterson), another friend of Risner’s. They tracked him down to Risner’s grave, with Fallon placing Lockett’s medal on the gravestone before he was arrested.
McCoy told Price and Maroun he was getting pressure from the military on this case, even as the case against Fallon was a bit flimsy. Martinez was willing to testify as a hostile witness. Martinez lived up to the hostile part, refusing to admit if Fallon had used his truck, and was arrested for contempt.
There was no way to find a video of Fallon driving the truck, although it was indicated he didn’t go straight home and might have stopped at a park Risner visited. They found the gun in a lake in the park.
With the prosecution resting, Fallon’s attorney, Erica Knight (Marsha Stephanie Blake), suddenly switched the plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. Fallon had a brain tumor and was using it as an excuse for acting in a rage.
McCoy reasoned that Fallon was blaming Lockett for his and Risner’s health issues, and this was a way of painting them as the victims. Maroun said Fallon had a point as Lockett never helped these guys, and if she was on the jury, she’d be accepting this defense.
A doctor testified to the health issues of the men, and Fallon admitted to shooting Lockett in a fugue state he wasn’t responsible for. Price had her admit the tumor didn’t explain how Fallon had waited for the right moment to commit the murder.
Fallon testified of how the soldiers had been affected by burning pits, but Lockett didn’t care. He and Risner had been close, and Risner couldn’t take the agony or the pain he was putting his family through anymore to end it.
Fallon claimed he went to see Lockett for an apology, and when the man refused to accept responsibility, Fallon shot him, although he couldn’t recall actually pulling the trigger.
McCoy vs. Price?
Sgt. Brice Crawford (Michael Bakkensen) of the Army Bureau for public relations shared a file revealing Fallon had shot an unarmed Iraqi civilian in 2008. It was hushed up because of the optics and would hurt his alibi.
Maroun sardonically pointed out this also relieved the army of responsibility over the burn pits, with Crawford defending it, and Price said this proved Fallon had a history of violence.
Martinez claimed Fallon was actually on a mission to recover stolen warheads, and the army was blaming Fallon for their own bad intelligence.
Price told McCoy he wasn’t sure about using the report as he believed Martinez and Maroun noted how suspicious the timing was. McCoy retorted that cancer didn’t excuse murder.
McCoy flat out told Price to use the report and, when asked if he was “pulling rank,” shouted, “You’re damn right I am!”
Price was curious about Lockett turning down an Army job in New York. In court, he pressed Fallon on his statement about never shooting someone unless it was following the chain of command.
Price read a letter from Lockett when he retired where he had called for the army to stop using burn pits and took responsibility for ignoring the damage to soldiers. Fallon was stunned to realize Lockett really was sorry, and he killed the man over nothing. Price pointed out that Fallon never gave Lockett a chance to talk and just shot him.
The jury found Fallon guilty, with Melinda happy her father’s name was cleared. Maroun noted Lockett died for following orders, and she and Price agreed that didn’t seem right.
It was a tricky case to show how “chain of command” can mean different things to different people, and sometimes going too far on duty can backfire.
Law & Order Season 22 airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.