‘Chicago Justice’ Season 1, Episode 2 Recap: ‘Uncertainty Principle’

Stone charges ‘Chicago PD’s’ Kevin Atwater with murder despite the return of Paul Robinette. Here’s what happened in ‘Chicago Justice’ Season 1, Episode 2.

The Chicago Police Department probably won’t be exchanging Christmas cards with the State’s Attorney’s Office after this week’s Chicago Justice. “Uncertainty Principle” started with an arrest and ended with Chicago PD‘s Kevin Atwater on trial for murder.

Anna Valdez (Monica Barbaro) visits Chicago PD lockup to offer a defendant a plea deal. The man’s lawyer asks what she might be able to do for the drunk guy in the next cell. Anna turns him down but becomes horrified when the lawyer calls back to tell her the second man has died in custody.

How did Justin Wilkes die and who was responsible? Peter Stone (Philip Winchester) finds that he suffered impact to the chest that caused part of his sternum to puncture his aorta, leading Wilkes to bleed to death. Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda) and Laura Nagel (Joelle Carter) find out that it took five hours for the hospital to evaluate him; not Chicago Med, because this crap would not fly there.

The paramedics took their time getting Wilkes to the hospital because they were called to another emergency and thought he could wait while they handled the second case. And most worryingly, the arresting officer is Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins), who got physical with Wilkes when he initially arrested him that morning. The man who was in the cell beside him further claims Wilkes said he was hurt by the arresting officer.

Naturally Antonio doesn’t want to believe that his old teammate could be culpable. But that’s before Reverend William Fitch produces cell phone videos, shot by members of the community, that show the pursuit between Atwater and Wilkes. Those videos, combined with the security camera footage Antonio requests, show a clear struggle that involves Atwater tackling Wilkes to the ground and slamming him up against a car.

Antonio’s bias is showing, to the point where Laura calls him out on it and Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) shows up to lean on him. “If Kev killed that son of a bitch,” Voight insists, “that son of a bitch needed killing.”

Stone’s perspective is much clearer. To him, their responsibility is to the victim and his family, so he decides to pursue charges against all of the personnel involved on the grounds that everything they did contributed to Wilkes’ death.

Mark Jefferies: What is he to you?
Peter Stone: He’s a murder victim.

The case gets even thornier when Paul Robinette (Richard Brooks), Stone’s old friend and former second chair for his father Ben Stone, tells Peter that he’ll be defending Atwater. It seems Voight called him to make sure Stone didn’t throw Atwater behind bars, too. That’s a sneaky move but did we expect anything less from the guy who routinely blindsides suspects?

Robinette tries to stop the case from even getting to the grand jury, claiming that the mere act would cause irreparable harm to Atwater’s reputation. He further gives Stone some advice: that he should talk to his father, from whom he’s apparently estranged. Robinette’s motion is denied but the judge accidentally throws him a bone when she mentions “targets,” letting him know that they were aiming for more than one person.

The grand jury refuses to indict anyone but Atwater and Mark Jefferies (Carl Weathers) orders that he be arrested within the hour. Of course, it’s Antonio who goes to get his friend, after which there is another argument between him and Stone about what side they should be on. These two ought to just punch each other and get it over with.

Mark Jefferies: This is just an example of how the system works on its own power without the unecessary civil unrest we’ve seen in too many other cities. Now, it truly saddens me to bring the weight of this office down on a member of law enforcement, but Mr. Wilkes and his family deserve nothing less.

Atwater’s trial is a slugfest between Stone and Robinette. As predicted, Robinette brings up that Stone had tried to bring charges against other defendants, even though the judge orders the jury to disregard his comments. Stone brings in a witness to the chase; Robinette shoots her down by claiming she’s biased against the police.

Jefferies is pressured by Reverend Fitch so he orders Stone to use the first defendant from the top of the episode. Put on the stand, the guy testifies that Wilkes said “the cop that arrested him, beat the hell out of him.” That’s enough for Robinette to want a deal; he and Stone agree that Atwater will plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Kevin Atwater: I got out of my car, he saw me and fled. I chased him down. I didn’t mean to but I guess I was too rough with him. He died.

But wait, there’s no way Atwater can go to prison, is there? Of course not because then we’d be short a cast member on Chicago PD. So after he pleads guilty our heroes start to have misgivings. They realize that everyone just assumed Wilkes was drunk; nobody actually checked to see that he was in fact inebriated. Something had to have happened while he was in lockup and it wasn’t a drinking binge.

Stone and Valdez meet with the original defendant and call him out for lying the entire time. Anna reveals that the two were not in separate cells originally; they were in the same cell until Carrera punched Wilkes over not giving him a cigarette, causing the chest injury that led to his death. Now Carrera has two murder charges and perjury to look forward to.

Atwater’s guilty plea is vacated. Stone takes his being wrong like a man and, even though he doesn’t have to, stands up in court to give Atwater a personal apology.

Peter Stone: Part of what we do as prosecutors is to make decisions that might destroy the lives of innocent people. We do our best to make those decisions without prejudice or pride. Sometimes, we get it wrong. Officer Atwater, on behalf of the State’s Attorney’s Office and all the people of Cook County, I’m sorry.

The episode ends with Peter, as we all knew he would, finally picking up the phone and calling his father. It’s probably as close as we’ll get to a Peter Stone-Ben Stone moment on Chicago Justice but it’s a warm and fuzzy place to end an episode that put the screws to everyone.

Chicago Justice airs Sundays at 10/9c on NBC.

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