American Justice - Cop Killers   View more episodes

Aired at 11:00 AM on Friday, Jun 25, 2010 (6/25/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


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00:04:11>> Kurtis: Two gang members describe the killing of a cop.
00:04:21[Taps] ♪♪ ♪♪
00:04:25>> Kurtis: No police force in America has had more of its officers killed in the line of duty than the New York City Police Department, and none of those deaths caused more outrage than that of officer Eddie Byrne.
00:04:38In the mid-1980s, with the emergence of crack cocaine, the NYPD was locked in violent battle with local drug lords.
00:04:46Nowhere was that more evident than on the streets of South Jamaica in the borough of Queens.
00:04:52By 1987, the area's crack trade was estimated at $100 million a year.
00:04:57Drug dealers routinely killed or tortured anyone who got in their way, but the owner of this house decided to risk angering those drug lords.
00:05:06Arjun Harden, his face concealed for his protection, grew tired of watching crack being sold in his neighborhood.
00:05:13He began calling the police whenever he saw drug activity.
00:05:16Those calls led to several arrests.
00:05:19>> The people who ran that drug area realized it was Mr. Arjun who was making the calls.
00:05:25In November of 1987, to retaliate, they firebombed his house.
00:05:32>> Kurtis: The nypd offered Arjun protection, posting an officer outside his hous24 hours a day.
00:05:41One of the top dealers in South Jamaica was this man, Howard Pappy Mason.
00:05:45Mason was the leader of an especially brutal gang.
00:05:48>> His underlings were violent.
00:05:50I mean, there's still people today who won't talk about them because of their fear and what they'd done to other people.
00:05:57>> Kurtis: But on february 25, 1988, the NYPD caught up with Pappy Mason not for dealing drugs but on the minor charge of possessing an illegal weapon.
00:06:08Pappy Mason was not happy about being taken off the street.
00:06:11To retaliate, he sent a chilling message to his fellow gang members: Kill a cop.
00:06:16>> This was a planned assassination not of a particular police officer but of any police officer for the sole purpose of delivering a message.
00:06:27And that was it, the message of death for anyone who opposes us.
00:06:32>> Kurtis: That night, pappy's right-hand man, Philip Marshal Copeland carried the message to these gang members: Scott Cobb, Todd Scott, and David McClary.
00:06:43The four met in this apartment in a Queens housing project, and for $8,000 each, they agreed to carry out Pappy Mason's orders.
00:06:53At the same time, the gang was formulating its plan just one mile away, Officer Eddie Byrne was assuming the night watch at the house of informant Arjun Harden.
00:07:03Byrne was a 22-year-old rookie on the force less than 7 months, but his blue uniform made him the perfect target for Pappy Mason's gang.
00:07:12At 3:30 in the morning, they made their move.
00:07:15>> They parked there, approximately a block away.
00:07:17Scott Cobb stayed in the car.
00:07:19He was the driver.
00:07:20Todd Scott and Dave McClary approached Eddie's vehicle from the rear, and Todd Scott approached the passenger side of the vehicle, and David McClary came up on the driver side and just fired into the vehicle.
00:07:39>> Kurtis: Five shots were fired, three hitting Eddie Byrne in the head, killing him instantly.
00:07:46Neighbors heard the shots and called 911.
00:07:49Detective Richard Sica and his partner were the first officers to arrive at the scene.
00:07:54>> When you first saw it, it was almost that it wasn't real.
00:08:00We knew right away that we had to go right into an investigation.
00:08:04Blocks were cordoned off from one block in either direction, and a crime scene was started immediately.
00:08:10>> Kurtis: For the next several days, a virtual army of officers swept through neighborhood crack houses, arresting pushers and users and then interrogating them about the murder.
00:08:19As with all cases of cop killings, a sense of urgency permeated the investigation.
00:08:24Officers from surrounding areas volunteered to help find the shooter.
00:08:30February 29, 1988, the funeral of rookie Eddie Byrne, 10,000 New York City police officers attended.
00:08:39Among them was retired police lieutenant Matthew Byrne, Eddie's father.
00:08:47Three days later, detectives got their first break in the case.
00:08:51A gang member named Martin Howell called a hot line and offered key information in return for a $50,000 reward that had been advertised.
00:08:59>> Marty Howell was an actual worker for Pappy Mason.
00:09:03He knew Todd Scott and Scott Cobb and Marshal Copeland from dealing drugs.
00:09:09>> Kurtis: Howell told detectives that he was in the apartment when Philip Marshal Copeland delivered Pappy Mason's order to execute a cop.
00:09:17Later that same night, the sweeps to pick up local drug users paid a dividend when a neighborhood prostitute and crack addict was brought in.
00:09:25>> She told the officers that she was an actual eyewitness to the murder of Edward Byrne and that she knew Todd Scott from attending school with him within the area.
00:09:37>> Kurtis: She then corroborated what Marty Howell had told police.
00:09:41In addition to Todd Scott, she identified Philip Copeland, Scott Cobb, and David McClary as members of the hit team.
00:09:49Within 48 hours, the NYPD had rounded up all four gang members.
00:09:53At the time, there was no death penalty in New York.
00:09:56In fact, the worst punishment a killer could get was 25 to life, er.
00:10:04Not wanting to take unnecessary chances, the prosecutors charged the gang members with second-degree murder.
00:10:12>> Why take a chance that you could run into appellate issues by charging murder in the first degree?
00:10:19>> Kurtis: The prosecution had to prove each gang member was an active participant in the crime.
00:10:24In New York, as in most states, an accomplice in a murder is just as culpable as the trigger man.
00:10:29The prosecution's case hinged on videotaped statements that both Todd Scott and Scott Cobb had given police after their arrest.
00:10:37Both had done so without a lawyer present.
00:10:40>> I just seen when the first bullet hit him, 'cause he was up close to the window with the gun like this, and I heard the first bullet.
00:10:47And I saw when his head went down.
00:10:48And his hair went flying, like, you know, like a blow dryer.
00:10:52And I seen stuff, you know, blood and stuff, and I ran.
00:10:56>> Each of the statements were really an attempt to say, "He did it; not me.
00:11:03Maybe I was there, but I didn't know what was gonna happen." So they were all sort of pointing their fingers at one another.
00:11:09>> Kurtis: But todd scott's lawyer charged that the statement had been beaten out of his client by hotheaded NYPD detectives who were in a fury to catch a cop killer.
00:11:19>> Todd had told me that he was beaten.
00:11:22One of the police officers grabbed his testicles.
00:11:24They told him what to say, and he said it, but he said he--it wasn't a voluntary statement.
00:11:30He didn't make that statement of his own free will.
00:11:33>> Now, you're speaking to me because you want to speak to me about this incident now.
00:11:36Is that a fair statement?
00:11:37>> Yes.
00:11:38>> Kurtis: Prosecutors refuted the claim of brutality by showing photos of Scott taken immediately following his statement.
00:11:44>> After he described this serious beating where he's beaten in the chest and kicked and thrown down and this just whole calumny of...almost endless beatings, there was not a mark on him.
00:12:00>> Kurtis: Philip copeland made no videotape statement.
00:12:03He simply denied any involvement and said he had an alibi to prove it: The night of the murder, he had been out with his girlfriend.
00:12:10>> And I brought in three witnesses to place him at a diner where he had a meal with her and left, and then he went to a motel for this romantic interlude.
00:12:21>> Kurtis: But prosecutors argued that Copeland had left the motel in time to be present at the murder.
00:12:26And they offered the testimony of the street prostitute, now in the witness protection program, to prove it.
00:12:32The prostitute, Rachel Moore, said she had seen Copeland at the murder scene.
00:12:36She also ID'd the other gang members.
00:12:39Gang member Martin Howell also testified to Copeland's involvement in the planning stages of the murder back in the Queens apartment.
00:12:46But the defense argued that neither witness could be trusted.
00:12:49The prostitute was a crack addict, and Martin Howell, they said, was being paid for his testimony.
00:12:56>> He claimed that he heard what had occurred, but Martin Howell also claimed the reward money, and Martin Howell was receiving money on a weekly basis from the police in order to do drugs and to live, so to speak.
00:13:11>> Who is it that you expect to find out at 4:00 in the morning?
00:13:16You're not going to find the minister, the priest, the rabbi.
00:13:22You're not going to find the local deacon out.
00:13:25The people that you're going to find on the streets, and we didn't pick them, are crack dealers, prostitutes.
00:13:31>> Kurtis: Jury members bought that argument.
00:13:33All four defendants were found guilty.
00:13:36Each was sentenced to the maximum of 25 years to life in prison.
00:13:42But Defense Attorney Frank Hancock feels the case was biased from the start.
00:13:46He says the fact that the victim was a cop enflamed the entire system, from the NYPD to prosecutors, even the judge.
00:13:54>> I still remember the judge's final remark.
00:13:57"I will not be around at the point in time when you first come before the parole board, but my last official act, I'm gonna write a letter to the parole board to see that you never see daylight again." >> Kurtis: A year later, howard Pappy Mason was convicted in federal court of drug racketeering and ordering the murder of Eddie Byrne.
00:14:16He was sentenced to life in prison, and as a direct result of the publicity generated by the Byrne murder, Congress wrote a cop-killing statute into its 1988 crime bill making the murder of a police officer during a drug transaction a federal death penalty offense.
00:14:37That federal statute was put to the test in Texas in 1991.
00:14:41It was a case that would end up ing solved in part by the officer himself.
00:14:46Just moments before his murder, he flipped on a videotape and recorded his killers.
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00:19:29>> Do you have any ID?
00:19:30Do you have any ID on you?
00:19:31>> No, sir, I'm with, ah-- >> Kurtis: For police officers, this video is about as scary as they come.
00:19:36It shows a cop who is about to be killed, and every cop knows it could happen to them.
00:19:42>> Where--what state you got a driver's license in?
00:19:45>> Ah, Texas, here.
00:19:46>> Kurtis: It happened along Texas Highway 59, the same road where trooper Bill Davidson was killed in 1992.
00:19:53It's a major drug corridor out of Mexico.
00:19:55Officers here know that even a simple traffic stop can turn deadly.
00:20:00Stand right here just a minute.
00:20:04I'll be with you in just second.
00:20:06Probably turn these headlights off and kill the engine.
00:20:09>> Okay.
00:20:13>> Be right back with you.
00:20:17So you live in Houston?
00:20:18>> Kurtis: On january 23, 1991, Renaldo Villarreal, here standing outside the car; his brother Baldemar; and Jesus Jesse Sembrano had been driving north on Highway 59 with 70 pounds of marijuana in the trunk.
00:20:3447-year-old Constable Darrell Lunsford had pulled them over near the east Texas town of Garrison.
00:20:39>> Yeah.
00:20:40>> Kurtis: Lunsford apparently suspected their cargo.
00:20:43>> What?
00:20:43One day? Two days?
00:20:44>> Yeah, one day.
00:20:45>> Oh, you just been there one day?
00:20:46Do you have anything to worry about or anything?
00:20:48>> Ah, no.
00:20:49>> Okay.
00:20:51Stand right here just a minute.
00:20:52>> Okay.
00:20:54>> Darrell, that night, had made a couple drug arrests for people transporting narcotics, and in our mind, he probably pulled them over for the same purpose.
00:21:04>> To cover the vast lands of Texas, many officers patrol alone.
00:21:09As a safety measure, they wear microphones and use dash-mounted video cameras to back up their testimony later in court.
00:21:18>> Let me look in the trunk.
00:21:26I'll get it.
00:21:27I'll get it.
00:21:31You stay in the car.
00:21:32I'll get it.
00:21:33>> Kurtis: For darrell Lunsford, it would record the last moments of his life but also give investigators the critical clues to find the men who killed him as he searched their trunk.
00:21:43>> And there was two large duffle bags in there, and there's no doubt in my mind that Darrell Lunsford knew what was in the trunk at that time, even though he didn't make a comment to that effect.
00:21:54And I'm sure at that point in time that Renaldo and Baldemar and Jesus knew, when he opened the trunk, that they were caught.
00:22:03Baldemar Villarreal, in the red jacket, had by now joined his brother at the back of the car.
00:22:09>> Shortly thereafter--I mean a matter of seconds, really-- Baldemar signals and says something to Renaldo.
00:22:23>> Kurtis: During the fight, Baldemar, in the red, gets hold of Lunsford gun and fires a shot.
00:22:29The bullet entered Lunsford's neck, shattered his spine, and killed him instantly.
00:22:37>> It's kind of shocking.
00:22:38You realize now you've got an officer lying in the ditch there that's dead.
00:22:44It's almost like watching television and realizing that he was killed as a result of these men's actions.
00:22:52It--kind of shocking.
00:22:55>> Kurtis: The killers fled north, but when they saw a patrol car going in the opposite direction, they panicked and ditched their car on a side street just three blocks from the murder scene.
00:23:05Highway patrol soon found Lunsford dead by the side of the road.
00:23:09They called Sheriff Joe Evans.
00:23:11>> Because of the type of wound it was and that it was so destructive to his spinal column--there was just a small entrance wound, and there was no exit wound--we felt, initially, that he may have been beaten on, or that he may have been hit by a vehicle.
00:23:25So we ran the video back looking for any evidence of this.
00:23:29>> Kurtis: The dashboard video recorder began to reveal what had happened.
00:23:33After watching that fatal struggle on tape, Evans ordered an immediate search for the three Hispanic men.
00:23:39Within an hour, authorities found Villarreal's abandoned car.
00:23:43>> We set up roadblocks on all the major roads.
00:23:45We started watching the railroad tracks.
00:23:48We called Houston and Dallas, notified the airports, bus stations, taxi cabs, any type of transportation.
00:23:55We alerted all the agencies if they saw anybody hitchhiking.
00:23:59As in New York after the killing of rookie cop Eddie Byrne, officers from around the state offered their assistance.
00:24:05>> Within about probably 3 hours, we had 100, 150 volunteers, including citizens from Garrison, and about 8 hours later, we probably had-- approximately 200, 250 officers had arrived.
00:24:18>> Kurtis: Late that afternoon, Renaldo Villarreal, the driver, was caught while walking down a country road in a neighboring county.
00:24:24>> Have a good time-- >> Watch your head.
00:24:25>> Son of a bitch.
00:24:29>> Kurtis: The next morning, his brother Baldemar, the shooter, was picked up as he walked down the railroad tracks leading out of town, and a week later, the final suspect, Jesse Sembrano, was captured outside of this diner.
00:24:42From the raw videotape, the county sheriff's department could not pinpoint which of the three had actually shot Darrell Lunsford.
00:24:50So they turned the tape over to the FBI, which enhanced the sound and expanded the video frame.
00:24:56With these improvements, the answer was clear.
00:24:58We know basically when the shot occurred, because the coroner stated that the shot would have probably killed Mr. Lunsford instantly.
00:25:08So after the scuffle, and he's not moving anymore, right after that, we see the weapon in Baldemar's hand.
00:25:16>> Kurtis: Now the local prosecutors wanted to ensure that no matter what, the cop killers would get stiff punishment--if possible, death by lethal injection.
00:25:25But they decided they had a better chance of getting it if they turned the case over to the feds.
00:25:31That's becausere was now a federal law passed in 1988 that made anyone who killed a cop during a drug-trafficking arrest eligible for death.
00:25:39A law passed as a result of the killing of officer Eddie Byrne in New York.
00:25:44And even if the cop killers did not get sentenced to death, under federal law, they would have to serve at least 85% of their prison terms.
00:25:56The first step for the feds was to prove that the three men had been transporting drugs at the time of the killing.
00:26:01Defendant Jesse Sembrano made that easy by agreeing to testify for the prosecution in exchange for leniency.
00:26:08>> He testified that this was a drug transaction.
00:26:11In other words, they had obtained the marijuana in the Rio Grande Valley, and it was their intent to take it to the Chicago area for resale.
00:26:19>> Kurtis: Then he named Baldemar Villarreal as the man who had pulled the trigger.
00:26:24The enhanced version of the videotape backed up his testimony.
00:26:28There was very little the defense could do.
00:26:30On July 1, 1991, the jury found Renaldo and Baldemar Villarreal guilty of murder.
00:26:37Now the prosecution had to convince the jurors that the Villarreal brothers should die.
00:26:42There were two very specific requirements.
00:26:45>> One of the things was that it--we had to prove that the crime was committed in an especially heinous manner or means.
00:26:54Secondly, we had to prove that it was committed after substantial planning and/or premeditation.
00:27:00>> Kurtis: Baldemar's lawyer argued that the killing had occurred without any planning.
00:27:04He was on parole, and of course, he had 70 pounds of marijuana in the trunk of the car, and he knew that he was about to be arrested and almost certainly charged and convicted and returned to the penitentiary.
00:27:21So I'm sure the reason he lunged at him was in an attempt to escape, to get away.
00:27:26>> Kurtis: While the videotape was crucial in proving guilt, the defense felt it was their best argument against the death penalty.
00:27:33I believe it demonstrated the nature of the offense, that being not one that was particularly heinous or brutal.
00:27:42It was simply some young men wrestling with a big law enforcement officer, the officer and the young men struggling for the gun, and the young men ended up with it, and the officer ended up dead.
00:27:54>> Kurtis: The jury agreed and voted against the death penalty.
00:27:57They sentenced gunman Baldemar Villarreal to life in prison without parole, his brother Renaldo to 40 years, and because he had cooperated with prosecutors, the third defendant, Jesse Sembrano, got 30 years.
00:28:11It's rare for anyone involved in cop killing to get off with a light sentence.
00:28:16>> People who risk their lives every day on the street deserve that special added protection that comes with the fact that someone out there knows that if they decide that they're going to kill a law enforcement officer that they may be facing the death penalty themselves.
00:28:32>> Kurtis: Since 1994, nearly 800 police officers have been killed in the line of duty.
00:28:38A common justification given by those accused of slaying a cop is self-defense, that they killed out of fear for their lives, but arguing self-defense is difficult when the victim is a cop making an arrest.
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00:33:19>> Kurtis: There are very few excuses American justice will buy when it comes to killing a police officer.
00:33:26The standards for justifiable homicide are extremely tight when the victim is a cop making an arrest.
00:33:35Chicago police officers Gregory Hauser and Raymond Kilroy were best friends.
00:33:40They had been partners for ten years.
00:33:43On May 13, 1990, they were working an evening shift together when they responded to a seemingly routine domestic disturbance call at this house.
00:33:52The call involved this man, 21-year-old Roman Chavez, who lived with his grandmother, Florence Huniga.
00:33:58They did not get along.
00:34:01>> On the day this happened, Roman Chavez had his car parked in Florence's garage behind her house.
00:34:07She went out to the garage and asked him to move his car so she could park hers.
00:34:11He told her, "Get lost.
00:34:13I'll do whatever I want." Florence went back to her house and called the police.
00:34:19>> Kurtis: When officers hauser and Kilroy arrived, they walked out to the garage, where Chavez was working on his car.
00:34:26He had the back end of the car sticking out of the garage and the overhead door pulled down onto the trunk.
00:34:32>> Access into the garage was very limited by the space between the car and the door frame.
00:34:37Only one person could squeeze in the garage at a time.
00:34:40Florence Huniga walked over to a window to watch what was going to happen, and the two officers entered into the garage.
00:34:47>> Kurtis: This man, reverend Andrew Hagan, also watched from his house across the street, but neither he nor Florence Huniga could see what happened inside.
00:34:56To get a closer look, the priest began to come out of his house.
00:35:00Just then, he heard Chavez screaming in the garage, and then six gunshots.
00:35:06Chavez emerged from the garage alone.
00:35:09Afterward, Reverend Hagan would describe the scene.
00:35:12>> Roman came out of the front of the garage, walked toward the house, and he didn't run.
00:35:17He was walking.
00:35:18He had the gun in the air.
00:35:19>> Kurtis: The gun was officer Hauser's.
00:35:21Both he and his partner, Raymond Kilroy, lay dying inside the garage.
00:35:26Reverend Hagan called the police.
00:35:29Chavez disappeared into the house.
00:35:31He quickly crawled out this upstairs window and ran as Chicago police began to swarm the neighborhood.
00:35:37It took five hours, but they found him hiding under this porch just a few blocks away.
00:35:43Once Chavez was extricated, investigators found Officer Hauser's gun buried under the porch.
00:35:49Detectives then went back to search his room.
00:35:51In his bedroom were found Officer Kilroy's handcuffs, his keys, and one expended bullet casing of the type of ammunition used exclusively by the Chicago Police Department.
00:36:02In addition, when I had Roman Chavez brought up to my office here, I had a test performed on him known as a gunshot residue test, and it proved positive for firearms on his hands.
00:36:12>> Kurtis: May 17, 1990, the burial of officer Gregory Hauser.
00:36:19The next day, the scene was repeated for Raymond Kilroy.
00:36:26The following month, Roman Chavez was indicted on first-degree murder charges.
00:36:31Because the two victims were police officers, prosecutors, as usual, demanded the death penalty.
00:36:37They said Chavez had intentionally kill the two cops because he was angry with the entire Chicago police force over some previous traffic arrests.
00:36:46>> He thought that they were being unfair and that they had targeted him in some fashion, and he voiced the opinion to a lot of people that he wasn't gonna put up with it anymore and that he was going to do something.
00:36:56In fact, in some cases, he told people he would kill a police officer.
00:37:00>> Kurtis: It was clear that the weakest part of the prosecution's case was the lack of an eyewitness to the shooting.
00:37:06That was critical, because Chavez claimed he had not killed in anger but in self-defense after being beaten by the officers.
00:37:14But his attorney, Bob Isaacson, knew a self-defense case would be difficult to win, because when the victim is a cop making an arrest, the standards are much tougher.
00:37:24>> It's not like a barroom fight when two people are involved, and then the only question is whether the person reasonably believed that they were going to be either killed or badly hurt.
00:37:35>> Kurtis: To argue self-defense in a cop killing, Chavez had to prove the two officers had used excessive force.
00:37:42And while both the Reverend Hagan and Chavez's grandmother heard Roman scream just before the gunshots, the prosecution argued he was just angry over the cops' attempt to handcuff him.
00:37:52And to prove Chavez wasn't beaten, Prosecutor Scott Nelson showed these photographs taken the night he was arrested.
00:38:01>> His whole body was photographed while he was in his underwear, and he had a couple of scrapes, and he was pretty dirty because he had been buried underneath the steps, but outside of the scrapes incident to that arrest, he had no other injuries that would suggest that he had been beaten in any way.
00:38:13>> They took photographs of him in various states of undress.
00:38:17There wasn't in most of the pictures, a clear view of his hip.
00:38:21There was only one picture that showed a little bit of his hip area, which is really critical, because it showed where the police were--how the police were beating him.
00:38:31>> Kurtis: The trajectory of the gunshot wounds became another point of contention.
00:38:35One of the three bullets to hit Officer Hauser had struck in the top of his head.
00:38:39>> The defendant wasn't tall enough to shoot Greg Hauser in the top of the head shooting down into his head anyway except Greg Hauser being bent over or sitting down.
00:38:49What happened was, he was sitting down on the ground.
00:38:51He had slumped down and was dying by the time he reached over and put the last shot into his head.
00:38:55>> I asked Koelliker, who was the medical examiner, when she was testifying if the gunshot wound to Officer Hauser's head was not consistent with him charging towards my client to try to finish off my client.
00:39:09And she said, "Yes." And there's no way that my theory of how it happened was any more or less likely than the prosecution's theory about what happened.
00:39:18>> Kurtis: But on may 8, 1991, the juryouom Cz guilty.
00:39:23Before the punisent phase of the trial could begin, under Illinois law, the jury first had to decide if Chavez qualified for the death penalty.
00:39:31Prosecutor Nelson told them Chavez was a perfect candidate.
00:39:36Murdering a police officer who's acting in the line of duty makes you eligible for the death penalty.
00:39:41So he was eligible twice.
00:39:42He would be eligible for murder committed during the course of a robbery for both officers, and finally, he would be eligible for murdering more than one person.
00:39:51So there were five different theories under which the jury could find that he was eligible for a death sentence.
00:39:56>> Kurtis: But in a surprise move, they did not.
00:39:59Under state law, Chavez was then automatically sentenced to life in prison without parole.
00:40:05Prosecutor Nelson can only speculate that a juror or two held some sympathy for the cop killer.
00:40:11>> Kurtis: While nelson was deeply disappointed, Gregory Hauser's widow feels that justice was served.
00:40:16>> At first, I was disappointed that the death penalty had not been handed down, but the more you think about it, life in prison with no parole, especially when you're in your mid-20s is something that you're going to have to face every single day of your life as to what you had done.
00:40:39>> Kurtis: Because police go after cop killers with such fury, very few cases remain unsolved, even if they take years to break.
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00:45:25>> Kurtis: For the majority of cop killers, American justice is swift and severe.
00:45:29But that was not always the case.
00:45:32In the 1940s, most cops were white, particularly in the South.
00:45:36Black officers, even when killed in the line of duty, were a lower priority.
00:45:42It was September 1944 when John Millage and four others were sworn in as Miami's first black officers.
00:45:49Their mandate was narrow--to keep order in the city's black communities only.
00:45:53Ralph White was one of that original group.
00:45:56>> If we came upon a white person that was violating the law, we would try to detain them and call for one of the cars from downtown with white police to come out and arrest them.
00:46:06They didn't give us the same title.
00:46:09They gave us "patrolmen" instead of "policemen." >> Kurtis: Those patrolmen worked places like the black neighborhood of Overtown.
00:46:18John Millage was patrolling at a high-school football game there on November 1, 1946.
00:46:23>> John Millage was patrolling the outside perimeter of the park when he observed several kids trying to break into a gate that led into the park.
00:46:34He ran, and he chased them away.
00:46:36Minutes after, the kids who fled, they came back from an alley across the street, fired a shot which went through Officer Millage's neck.
00:46:45>> Kurtis: He died several hours later, becoming Miami's first black officer killed in the line of duty.
00:46:51But unlike cop killings today, the search for the shooter did not consume the entire Miami force.
00:46:57There were not hundreds of volunteers to work the case, only the other black officers, their ranks now up to 19 men.
00:47:04>> They brought in a number of people who were suspects.
00:47:06They interrogated them.
00:47:07We don't believe that there were white officers involved except the white supervisors who were always in charge of the black precinct.
00:47:14>> Kurtis: No one in overtown was talking.
00:47:16A $500 reward was posted, but still, the case remained unsolved, and it stayed that way for years, decades, until 1989.
00:47:25That's when a woman contacted the police with a tip.
00:47:28She said she'd been silent so long because she feared retribution, but now, 43 years later, it seemed safe.
00:47:35Her call was forwarded to Detective George Cadavid.
00:47:39>> She said that she and her boyfriend had been sitting at the porch that night, talking, when she saw a person run past her house, that he had a bad eye, and that he was holding a rifle.
00:47:51>> Kurtis: The case was reopened.
00:47:52After studying the original file, Detective Cadavid found mention of a 17-year-old with a bad eye named Leroy Straun.
00:48:00He then discovered that Leroy had moved to New York City exactly one day after the Millage shooting.
00:48:07Cadavid flew there and within weeks traced Leroy Straun to this office building where, for 22 years, he had operated the freight elevator.
00:48:15Straun was now 60.
00:48:16When the detective inquired about the killing of Officer Millage, he denied any volvement.
00:48:21But within hours, the 43 years of silent guilt overcame him.
00:48:26Straun admitted that, indeed, he had killed the police officer.
00:48:29On February 15, 1990, Leroy Straun was jailed on a first-degree murder charge.
00:48:35Prosecutors could not seek the death penalty for Straun since killing a cop had not been a capital offense back in 1946.
00:48:43In fact, prosecutors weren't sure what to do with the case.
00:48:46Aside from the confession, there wasn't much evidence left, nor was there a clear purpose for severely punishing a cop killer who had been a model citizen ever since the shooting.
00:48:56>> We were not sentencing the same person who had committed the crime.
00:49:01Although the body was the same, clearly, his mental attitude, the way he had conducted his life for 50 years or nearly 50 years from the time of the crime without any further criminal activity that we were aware of >> Kurtis: After 19 months of negotiations with defense attorneys, prosecutors agreed to a plea bargain.
00:49:19Straun pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
00:49:22He was sentenced to time already served: 7 years on probation and 500 hours of community service.
00:49:29>> It was solved very late, and that presented a number of problems practically and philosophically as to how to deal with it, and I don't know that you could find another case that would be dealt with in the same manner for the killing of a police officer.
00:49:42>> Kurtis: That's because most cop killings are solved almost immediately with little sympathy for the murderer.
00:49:48As we've seen in American justice, extreme punishments are the norm for cop killers.
00:49:53A deterrent, perhaps, but emotionally, such sentences reaffirm for us and for other officers the two values that a cop killing assaults: law and order.
00:50:06With the proliferation of handguns and the violent drug culture that the police confront on a daily basis, there is a popular misconception that cop killings are on the rise.
00:50:16In fact, the numbers have been declining for several years, and experts point to a couple of reasons.
00:50:23One, body armor.
00:50:24ing the dangers th face, many police officers now wea bulletproof vests as a standard part of their uniform.
00:50:32Secondly, the message seems to have gotten through to criminals that swift and severe punishment awaits all those who kill a cop.
00:50:42ForAmerican Justice, I'm Bill Kurtis.
00:51:00(male narrator) FOR HOMICIDE DETECTIVES, The clock starts ticking the moment they are called.
00:51:05(Zimmerman) THERE SHE GOES, Driving to her death here.
00:51:10(Holthusen) IT'S A SHAME.
00:51:11I mean, 19-year-old girl.
00:51:14[siren wailing] Time is ticking away.
00:51:16(man) OF ALL THE PEOPLE I TOLD, HE WAS THE Most shooken up.
00:51:18(narrator) THEIR CHANCE OF SOLVING A MURDER ..
00:51:22His world is completely shattered.
00:51:24(narrator) IF THEY DON'T GET A LEAD...
00:51:25(Dolce) SHE SAYS SHE'S NEVER BEEN HIT BY Anybody the way that she got hit by him.
00:51:29(narrator) WITHIN THE FIRST 48 HOURS.
00:51:32Zach, zach, look at me.
00:51:34You are such a liar, and you know it.
00:51:36[dramatic music] ♪ ♪
00:51:53(narrator)MINNEAPOLIS, MINNETA, 8:00 P.m.
00:52:01A cold night few days before christmas.
00:52:05(man) HO, HO, HO.
00:52:06Merry christmas.
00:52:09[line rings] [siren wailing] (narrator) WHEN POLICE ARRIVE, They find a woman in the car dead.
00:52:42And every time I get a murder, I end up smoking more, so that way, I really don't have to blame myself for being addicted to smoking.
00:52:50I'm saying it's the job.
00:52:53(narrator)12-YEAR HOMICIDE VETERAN SERGEANT Rick zimmerman will leadthe investigation.
00:53:04(Zimmerman) HEY, TAMMY.
00:53:05(Diedrich) HEY, YOU.
00:53:07(man) HEY, RICK?
00:53:08(Zimmerman) YEAH.
00:53:15(Diedrich) THE ONE NEIGHBOR THAT CAME OUT, He opened up the car door, extinguished the fire, and then he saw the body in the back.
00:53:22And then he pulled out the body.
00:53:25And obviously, she was dead.
00:53:27(narrator)SERGEANT TAMMY DIEDRICH RECENTLY Returned to homicide.
00:53:31She was zimmerman's partner for eight years.
00:53:35(Diedrich) THE FIRE WAS BARELY GOING.
00:53:38(narrator) ACCORDING TO NEIGHBORS, THE CAR Was left between 6:30 and 8:00 p.m.
00:53:44There was a baby seat in the backseat more on the backseat passenger side.
00:53:52That's a purse.
00:53:53It's right on the car seat.
00:54:00A wallet.
00:54:03You want to pick up that little credit card?
00:54:08Is there a name on it?
00:54:10(woman) KRISTINE C. LARSON.
00:54:16(narrator) THE VICTIM IS 19-YEAR-OLD KRISTINE Larson, a single mom with a two-year-old son.
00:54:27(Holthusen) IT'S A SHAME.
00:54:28I mean,19-year-old girl.
00:54:33(Diedrich)SHE'S A BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN THAT Photo.
00:54:37Pretty girl.
00:54:48(Diedrich) WAS THAT A LIGATURE?
00:54:53(man) YES.
00:54:54(narrator) THE MEDICAL EXAMINER DISCOVERS That kristine was strangled.
00:54:59(Diedrich) THERE WAS A WHITE CORD AROUND Her neck, so ligature strangulation.
00:55:05And she's got hematomas in her eyes.
00:55:08So she was really forcefully choked to the point where her eyes hemorrhaged.
00:55:17(narrator)ZIMMERMAN AND DIEDRICH WILL BE Assisted by rookie investigators sergeant chris gaitersand sergeant chris granger.
00:55:23(Huffman)WELL, IT'LL BE A VERY INTERESTING Case for our new investigators.
00:55:29(Zimmerman) YEAH, IT WAS A PRETTY FEEBLE Attempt at burning the body there, you know?
00:55:34And you see, he just used phone book material.
00:55:37Tammy--can you tell over there, tammy, on that phone book paper, is that-- does it say what county or town?
00:55:48(Diedrich) ST. PAUL PARK.
00:55:50(Zimmerman) YEAH, IT'S ST. PAUL.
00:55:51(narrator) THE PHONE BOOK USED TO START THE Fire paul park, 30 minutes outside minneapolis.
00:56:00So they said she was stiff when they pulled her out of there.
00:56:03You know, she's not burned very bad, so I'm thinking maybe she died somewhere else.
00:56:07They bring her-- throw her in the car, bring her down here to burn her.
00:56:10To me, it just seems like, if there's no accelerant, that just seems pretty juvenile.
00:56:14(Zimmerman) IT'S AMATEUR.
00:56:15Very disorganized, yeah, yeah.
00:56:17Obviously, you're burning the body-- or you're trying to burn the body, because you want to cover up who it is.
00:56:22(Holthusen) WHO IT IS.
00:56:23And if we can't identify her, he's thinking we can't identify him.
00:56:34So we're gonna have to go out and meet with mom, you know?
00:56:38 I'll meet you down there.
00:56:40(Zimmerman) OKAY, COOL.
00:56:42(narrator) DETECTIVES HEAD OUT TO THE HOME Address listed on the victim's driver's license.
00:56:50(Zimmerman) WE GOT A WHODUNIT.
00:56:51It looks like it's gonna be a grinder, an all-nighter, you know?
00:56:57[engine turns] (Diedrich)IT CONCERNS ME THAT THERE WAS A baby seat in the carof whe the victim was found.
00:57:08So where's the baby?
00:57:17[knocking at door] (narrator) SERGEANT DIEDRICH SPEAKS WITH Kristine's mother and stepfather.
00:57:41(woman)OH, MY GOD. OH, NO.
00:57:45Oh, no. no, no.
00:57:47Oh, my god, you guys.
00:57:55(Diedrich)AND HIS NAME WAS?
00:57:57(woman)ZACHARY MATTHEWS.
00:57:59Zachary otis matthews.
00:58:01(narrator) ACCORDING TO KRISTINE'S MOTHER, The baby is staying with his father, zachary, kristine's ex-boyfriend.
00:58:08She said that she was going to pick the baby up at 2:30.
00:58:14She told us that. she told zachary that.
00:58:17I've been in very close contact with zachary all day today.
00:58:21(Diedrich) HOW DID HE ACT?
00:58:22He was fine; he was concerned.
00:58:27How about some close girlfriends she might confide in?
00:58:31Honey, can I get my-- can you give them dolce-- (Diedrich) SO DOLCE WOULD PROBABLY BE HER Closest friend?
00:58:43I called her tonight.
00:58:44" and she didn't know.
00:59:05We've got a bunch of stuff to follow up.
00:59:07[engine turns] (Diedrich) IT'S SO IMPORTANT FOR US TO TALK To dolce.
00:59:15Time is ticking away.
00:59:23The more you think about it, it's probably planned.
00:59:26I mean, not well planned.
00:59:27(Zimmerman)BUT WHY?
00:59:29(man) WHY KILL HER?
00:59:30Or why dump it there?
00:59:31(Zimmerman) WHY KILL HER AT ALL?
00:59:32(Dunlap) HE WAS REALLY ANGRY About something to do it that way.