Home     Casebook: "Poison Ivy"
"Poison Ivy"
Episode 1-8 (# 8)          Original Airdate: November 20, 1990

Written by Jacob Brackman     Story by Jack Richardson     Directed by E.W. Swackhamer

Guest Stars
John Finn [Officer Freddo Parisi], Erik King [Dorian "Silky" Ford], Erika Alexander [Doris Carver], Al Freeman Jr. [Reverend Thayer], Jack Gwaltney [Officer Davis], Saundra McClain [Mrs. Richardson], Joe Pentaglio [Sergeant], Gregg Almquist [Gowdy], Christopher Wyn Koop [Corey], Jake Weber [Wesley Parker], Graciela LeCube [Mrs. Rodriguez], Barry Sherman [William Harriman Jr.], Josh Pais [Medical Examiner], Daryl Edwards [Richard], Dayton Callie [Monaghan], David Sharp [Hillary], Lawrence Weber [Judge Sirkin], John Fiore [Profaci], Minnie Gentry [Bernice], Martha Guilante [Adela], Karen Myrie [Claudia], Shirley Rumierk [Cissy], Damien Leake [Guard], Dan Moran [Policeman #2], Michele Wagner [Laurie], David E. Weinberg [Policeman #1], Howard Wesson [Baker]
The streets of New York City, at night....A patrol car pulls to the curb near an all-night deli. Officer Fredo Parisi is behind the wheel. His partner, Officer Davis, gets out, just as three black youths emerge. They're arguing, one shoves another -- then they see the police car and bolt down an intersecting street. Davis jumps back into the cruiser and the policemen give chase, lights flashing, siren going, screeching around the corner. The youths split up. Two turn down an alley, the third runs up the street toward the park. The policemen leap out of the car and pursue on foot, Parisi going after the two in the alley, Davis pursuing the third. Davis hears a shot, draws his gun, and runs to the alley. He finds Parisi standing against the wall. One of the black youths is lying nearby, shot in the chest, a revolver in his hand. Parisi says the kid drew on him. Davis kneels, determines the youth is dead, and tells Parisi to call it in.

Later that night the police are working the crime scene in the alley. Det. Mike Logan talks to Officer Davis, who says he didn't get a look at the kid he was chasing. But the one who got away from Parisi had a birthmark on his face. Logan tells a sergeant that somebody had to have heard the shot. "In this neighborhood," says the sergeant, "you couldn't get a witness to a sunrise." The sergeant tells him the dead kid had no identification. Logan joins Det. Sgt. Max Greevey and Captain Donald Cragen; they're joined, in turn, by Lt. Gowdy of Internal Affairs. It's Gowdy's opinion that it's an open and shut case -- the kid drew on Parisi. Greevey says they still have to their own investigation. When Gowdy reminds him they're all one family, Greevey says there are members of his family he wouldn't trust. As they leave the crime scene, he tells Logan that he doesn't think it's right to wrap the case up in ten minutes.
While canvassing merchants in the area looking for a young man in his early twenties with a birthmark on his cheek, Greevey and Logan stop at a grocery where they learn that the man they're looking for is a regular customer and hangs out at the schoolyard.
Greevey and Logan find three girls in the schoolyard, dancing to music blaring from a boombox. "You ain't cool, get outta my school. I'm no fool," raps one of the girls to the detectives, who learn that the man with the birthmark is named Silky Ford. They also find out where he lives.
They meet a middle-aged black woman on the stoop of the apartment building. She tells them that Silky is always looking for trouble, and lives on the fourth floor.
The detectives are greeted at the apartment door by a man named Richard, who claims he's alone. Greevey and Logan push past him, and Greevey produces a warrant. Richard swears Silky is in Philadelphia visiting his sick sister, but Logan finds Ford crouched inside a freestanding cabinet in the kitchen. Silky says he was home all night long, with Richard. The detectives take him to the precinct.
At the 27th Precinct, Greevey decides to bring Davis and Parisi in to look at the lineup separately. Logan asks him if he thinks Davis would lie for Fredo. Greevey says they're both choirboys. Davis is the first in; he tentatively identifies Silky Ford out of the lineup. Fredo Parisi is next; he tells Greevey it could be Number 3 (Silky), but he's not sure enough for an ID.
Later, Greevey tells Logan he doesn't buy it that two guys can't identify a guy like Silky, with his birthmark. He points out that most cops go thirty years without ever firing their weapons, but this is Parisi's second shooting. "It also makes you wonder," says Logan, "how many cops died thinking 'That's not a gun in his hand.'"
On Tuesday, July 21, Greevey and Logan call on the medical examiner and learn there was no ID on the dead kid's prints. The M.E. asks the detectives if they'd received the evidence bag; the kid had $3,000 hidden in his sock.
At One Police Plaza, Forensics, a lab tech gives Greevey the revolver found in the dead youth's hand. There was one set of prints, belonging to the deceased. The serial number had been removed with acid.
Logan takes the gun to Ballistics. The lab tech there fires the revolver into the tank, retrieves the bullet, and checks it. She tells Logan someone had worked on the Magnum. The slug shows an R-10 twist. Logan tells her to go back a few months, see if they can find a match.
Back at the 27th Precinct, Logan brings Greevey the Ballistics report. The Magnum is clean. There are two likely sources: Hoover in Washington Heights and Bernie on 116th Street. Greevey thinks Silky would stay close to home. So they decide to check with Bernie.
At Bernie's, the detectives show the proprietor the Magnum. "They're like opinions," says Bernie. "Everybody's got one." While Bernie is preoccupied with Logan, who questions him regarding a displayed double-cylinder deadbolt that's illegal to install in the city, Greevey fishes an automatic pistol out of a drawer behind Bernie's counter. The detectives threaten to bust him for possession of what they suspect is a "hot" piece, and warn him he'll lose a lot of business with the shop closed. Greevey shows him a picture of the dead kid, whom Bernie claims he's never seen. But he identifies Silky Ford as the one who bought the Magnum a month or six weeks ago.
Back at Silky Ford's apartment, Greevey and Logan barge in as soon as Silky opens the door. They arrest Ford, informing him that the kid Parisi shot had Silky's gun in his hand. Silky admits to having seen the kid around, that he sold him the gun, but he doesn't know his name. Greevey is skeptical. Silky insists he doesn't know a name, that a sister named Doris introduced them. Logan cuffs Silky, informing him that he has just confessed to a felony.
At The Tombs, Greevey and Logan are present as Silky Ford, complaining about how much it will cost him to get out of jail -- his lawyer charges $300 an hour -- , is locked up. Greevey advises him to think about where he was the night of the shooting. Outside the Criminal Courts Building, Logan suggests that maybe the kid Parisi shot actually did have the gun. Greevey isn't buying it; hedoubts Silky would have sold him the gun for an IOU -- the dead kid still had the three thousand bucks in his show.
On Friday, September 11, Greevey and Logan pay a visit to Doris Carver at her apartment. Doris swears she doesn't know Silky. But when Logan tells her that the dead kid had Silky's gun in his hand when he died, and that Silky had told them she was there when he sold the kid the Magnum, Doris says Silky is lying. The dead kid is Tommy Richardson, and he lived on 103rd between Lexington and Park.
The detectives are met at the door of the Richardson apartment by Tommy's younger brother Abel, who tells them to come back later because his mother is at work. Logan tells Abel he'd better come with them.
At the 27th Precinct, Abel asks the detectives to call a Reverend Thayer. When Thayer arrives, he demands to know why they've brought Abel to the precinct. Logan informs the reverend that Tommy Richardson apparently pulled a gun on a policeman. Thayer insists that they're wrong. Greevey shows him a snapshot of Tommy Richardson lying dead in the alley. Thayer is stunned. He says Tommy wouldn't have a gun. He was an honor student at Princeton University.
The next day Greevey and Logan arrive at the 27th Precinct to find the sidewalk filled with protesters shouting and carrying placards. They push through the protesters and ignore questions fired by several reporters. Before they go inside Greevey remarks that whatever really happened, they "just got shoved out of a plane at thirty thousand feet, no parachute."
In Cragen's office, the captain asks Greevey and Logan why Parisi and Davis went soft on Silky at the lineup. Logan thinks they just made a mistake. Greevey says their mistake was in thinking nobody would know they were lining. Cragen warns him what will happen if they go after cops and turn out to be wrong.
On Monday, September 14, Greevey and Logan arrive at Officer Fredo Parisi's home. Parisi is unimpressed by the fact that Tommy Richardson was a student at Princeton. "No matter how fancy you dress 'em up, they'd still just as soon gun down a cop." Greevey says it's hard to believe Silky Ford's gun was there but Silky wasn't. Parisi explodes in anger, reminding them he's got twenty three years on the force. Who are they going to trust? When Greevey makes a sarcastic remark about how trustworthy he sounds, Parisi leaps out of his chair. Logan restrains him. Parisi tells them to talk to his POBA rep next time they have something to ask him.
In Capt. Cragen's office at the Two-Seven, Greevey and Logan meet with two representatives from the Police Officer's Benevolent Association, who claim that Parisi's two decades on the force merits respect. They don't appreciate that he's being treated like a punk murderer. Cragen tells the POBA reps that Greevey is just doing his job. He warns Greevey about how he handles Parisi. Once the POBA reps leave, Greevey commiserates with Cragen; he understands that the captain is between a rock and a hard place. "If we don't fix this fast the brotherhood is going to crucify us," says Cragen. "If we do, the black community is going to crucify us."
Logan finds Officer Davis at a gym frequented by police. Davis and other officers confront Logan. Davis makes snide comments about detectives, about how they don't know what it's like on the streets. Another cop tells Logan to close ranks. Logan says he has -- with his partner. When another cop grabs Logan's trenchcoat a scuffle ensues. Davis breaks it up. He says that regardless of whether the dead kid went to some fancy school the three "skels" were doing a drug deal that night. Logan assures him they're all on the same side. "You coulda fooled me," says Davis.
Back at the 27th Precinct, Logan tells Greevey they're all alone on this one. Greevey says he doesn't like being told to roll over. Tommy Richardson had $3,000 in his sock -- five hundred for the Magnum, the going rate on the street, and twenty five hundred for a half pound of crack. Drug dealers don't take credit. So the deal never went down, which means Tommy never had the gun. He speculates that Parisi shot him, put the Magnum in his hand, and gave Silky a walk. Logan points out that they need to turn up the third guy.
At Doris Carver's apartment, Greevey tries to persuade Doris that she owes Tommy Richardson. Doris says that the third kid that night was just a skinny little boy. Greevey realizes then that she must be talking about Tommy's little brother, Abel.
At the Richardson apartment, Abel tells the detectives that Tommy never had a gun. He was going to buy one from Silky, plus a half-pound of crack. But the cops came before the deal could go down. And Silky still had the gun. Outside the apartment building, Logan apologizes to Greevey. Greevey says that Richardson had the money and Silky had the gun. But what happened to the dope?
The detectives visit Silky in The Tombs. Greevey informs him that a witness puts him at the scene that night. Silky knows they're talking about Abel, and admits he was there. He says Tommy had the gun, and drew on the cop. Greevey tells him he's playing it all wrong. "I'm still breathing, ain't I?" asks Silky. As they leave the lockup, the detectives learn from a guard that Silky got another visit from a cop that morning. The name in his logbook: Fredo Parisi.
In Capt. Cragen's office, Greevey, Logan and the captain consult with Gowdy from Internal Affairs. Greevey says he thinks Parisi threatened Silky Ford, but Gowdy thinks Ford is lying. Logan insists that Parisi is lying, and Davis is covering for him. Cragen announces that the DA agrees, but since it's a cop, it has to be an IA collar.
Gowdy, Greevey and Logan enter the .38 Special Bar on Wednesday, October 31. They find Fredo Parisi at the bar. Gowdy reluctantly informs him that he is under arrest for the murder of Thomas Richardson, and starts to read him his rights. "Save it, wiseguy," says Parisi. "I know it by heart."

In the conference room of the DA's offices, EADA Ben Stone, accompanied by ADA Paul Robinette, face off against Fredo Parisi and Parisi's attorney, Mr. Hillary. Stone points out that Tommy Richardson had no record. Hillary counters that Abel makes a lousy witness and Fredo is a veteran cop. It will be his word, and Davis' and Silky's, against Abel, who is just trying to protect his brother's reputation. When Hillary and Parisi are gone, Stone tells Robinette to make sure Abel is clean.
On Thursday, November 5, Robinette visits Reverend Thayer at the North Presbyterian Church. Thayer is critical of Robinette for failing to stand up for his "brothers." Robinette doesn't believe color has anything to do with it. Thayer tells him that Tommy Richardson was a hero in the community. He brought home money for the church -- the children's enrichment program and the boy's choir. The money, says Thayer, came from the family of Tommy's roommate at Princeton -- to the tune of $48,000.
Robinette calls of William Harriman, Jr., Tommy Richardson's roommate. Harriman is shocked when Robinette tells him about the money, and denies that it came from his family. Tommy was hanging out with "trust fund babies" who wanted to score some coke, and since Tommy was black, they came to him. They were his customers.
In Ben Stone's office, Stone and Robinette observe a demonstration in the street below -- people with placards marching and chanting "We want justice! We want justice!" Robinette points out that, to them, Tommy Richardson is a hero, and that Stone could destroy that dream. "The truth will set you free," replies Stone. "But it won't always make you happy." He warns Robinette that if the jury finds out Richardson was a drug dealer they won't believe he didn't have a gun. Robinette suggests cutting a deal so that Parisi does a couple of years and Richardson's name stays clean. Stone won't deal. He won't let killers walk. Tommy's mother and brother arrive. Mrs. Richardson tells Stone that Tommy's father died when he was ten. He spent his entire life taking care of others. Abel asks to talk to Stone outside. He tells Stone that this is killing his mother. He admits that his brother was moving dope at Princeton. The drugs were bought in New York. His mule was a girl named Doris.
Robinette catches up with Doris Carver outside her home at 124th and Lennox. He tells her he knows she was once "on the stroll" (a prostitute), and that she jumped bail, failing to show up in court three times. It's a veiled threat. Doris tells him that Tommy asked her to score some coke. She took it to Jersey for him. He paid her so much she could stop turning tricks. Thanks to him, she got out of "the life." Robinette observes she moved from hooking to drug dealing. "Which would you rather sell?" she asks him angrily. "Drugs or your body?"
After making their way through a demonstration in support of Tommy Richardson and another, consisting of police officers, in support of Fredo Parisi, Stone and Robinette are met by two POBA reps on the steps of the Criminal Courts Building. In their opinion, the indictment against Parisi was stupid. Fredo had every reason to believe Tommy Richardson was going to shoot him. One of the reps asks Stone what he would have done in that situation. Stone assures him he would not have placed a gun in a dead kid's hand. He's warned that he better be able to prove Fredo did that in court.
In the DA's office, Schiff tells Stone to try to make a deal with Parisi. Stone is shocked. "Am I mistaken," he says, "or did you just take a stand about a community having to have its laws?" Schiff insists he doesn't have enough to convict Parisi. Most of the time, he points out, he lets Stone run with it. This time, though, he has to do what's best for the office.
Stone and Robinette take the offer to Parisi at the officer's house. Stone tells him that a lot of people would prefer that he not stand trial. If he pleads to manslaughter he could be out in one or two years. Parisi insists on having his day in court.
On Tuesday, November 17, the trial begins, the Honorable Harvey Sirkin presiding. On the witness stand, Abel testifies that when they ran from the police Silky Ford had the Magnum in his jeans. On cross, Hillary has Abel admitting that his brother intended to buy the gun from Silky that night. He asks Abel if he would honestly admit that Tommy was capable of shooting a policeman. Stone's objection is sustained. Hillary asks Abel if, since he was not in the alley the night his brother was shot, how he can know what went on there.
In his office, Stone tells Robinette that the jury didn't believe Abel, and that Fredo will walk. Robinette thinks they could get Officer Davis to roll if Silky does. But Silky won't unless he's set up for a felony. Stone tells him to do that. Robinette wonders if it's ethical. "It's legal," counters Stone. "In the criminal justice system that makes it ethical." Silky was a drug dealer intent on committing a felony that night.
The streets of New York, at night....Silky Ford meets Doris Carver on a street corner. He tells he thought that with Tommy gone she would be out of the business. Doris says she has other customers. In an unmarked car down the street, Greevey and Logan hear every word of this conversation -- Doris is wearing a wire. Doris asks if Silky has her rocks. He quotes her a price of five grand. Once Silky has taken the money, Greevey gives the word on a walkie talkie. He and Logan jump out of the car. Two officers disguised as workmen at a nearby site draw their guns and close in on Silky, who starts to flee, then puts his back to a wall and throws up his hands.
Stone, Greevey and Logan are present with Silky in the 27th Precinct's interrogation room. A fifth man operates a video camera aimed at Silky. Silky wants to know if they can protect him. Stone warns him he could be put away for fifteen years to life. Silky admits he saw Parisi shoot Tommy, who was unarmed. Fredo then took Silky's gun, wiped it off on his shirt and put it in Tommy's hands. He told Silky to take the dope and leave. He also threatened Silky -- if Ford told anybody he'd die. The threat was repeated in Silky's cell at The Tombs.
Stone and Robinette visit with Officer Davis, and Davis' POBA rep, in the 27th Precinct. They play a tape of Silky's confession. Stone warns Davis not to let misguided loyalty ruin his life. He has five kids, a wife, a house, five or six citations, a great record. Davis insists that Parisi is his partner. Stone informs him that Tommy Richardson had $3,000 on him when he died. The buy never went down. He never bought Silky's gun.
In the courtroom, questioned by Stone, Davis testifies that Parisi told him not to identify Silky if a lineup took place, that Silky would say he wasn't there. He was sure Davis didn't have to worry because he let Silky make off with the crack. Hillary has no questions for Davis. The prosecution calls Dorian Silky Ford. Silky is escorted into the courtroom. By the expression on Fredo Parisi's face, it's clear he knows he's finished. Since Stone feels Silky's testimony will take some time, Judge Sirkin adjourns until tomorrow.
Schiff meets with Stone and Robinette in his office. Stone says Parisi should have admitted he was scared and panicked. No jury would have convicted him of murder. Robinette opines that it's better for everyone that Fredo will never have a gun in his hand again. The phone rings. Schiff answers it, listens for a moment, thanks the caller, and hangs up. He tells Stone and Robinette they don't have to worry about a verdict. Parisi just "ate his gun."
The pews of North Presbyterian Church are filled as Reverend Thayer speaks from the pulpit. Stone and Robinette are in the crowd. Thayer tells the congregation that Tommy Richardson was a symbol of what every child born in poverty could achieve. He gave back to his people. He tried to help by giving money. But the money came from selling drugs, and he was killed because of it. He tried to do the right thing, but in the wrong way.
Greevey shows up at Ben Stone's office late at night. The detective wants to tell the EADA that he knew this case was a tough one. That he didn't let go of it because "there, but for the grace of God, go I. Or any cop. You get caught, you get prosecuted." Stone smiles and says he didn't know Greevey was a philosopher. "Just an ex-altar boy with a gun," replies Greevey.

[Summary by Jason Manning, August 2002]