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Full Synopsis

A carjacking by Bronx black teenagers resulting in the death of a white suburban woman becomes a cause celebre when feelings of prejudice and injustice boil to the surface. A circus atmosphere pervades the case in this powerful, provocative drama that speaks to our time.

Led by cocky 16-year-old Kenny, who has a gun, Rodney, Shawn and a reluctant Kameel steal an Infiniti. Losing their way, they mistakenly get on the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey. As their car exits on a rotary turnabout, it sputters, out of gas, lurches sideways and blocks both lanes.

Meanwhile, 30-ish Betty Gainer, driving from her self-defense class, chatting with her husband Frank (Bruce Davison) on her car phone, takes a wrong turn and is headed for the bridge. Frank talks her through to the rotary exit where the stalled Infiniti bars her way. The teenagers try to seize her car. As Kenny breaks the window with the gun butt, she grabs her can of Mace. Shawn yanks her out and Kenny, seeing she’s holding a dark object, strikes her with the gun until she falls to the ground.

Frank, listening to the struggle on his phone at home, dials 911. The police intercept Betty’s stolen car. Kenny admits there is a gun, but suggests it’s Betty’s. The carjackers are shaken to learn she is dead.

After their arrest, court-appointed attorney Joe Lind (Judd Hirsch) questions the timing of the Miranda reading and suggests police brutality and a racist cop frame-up. The district attorneys of New York and New Jersey both want the case, and even the Justice Department is interested.

Kameel’s hard-working parents enlist the help of black activist Reverend Ed Walton (Gregory Hines), who plays the race card, inciting the black community with a rally.

As public fervor mounts, Frank becomes frustrated to realize Betty’s tragic death is nearly forgotten. His despair deepens when, through plea bargaining, the youths are remanded to the juvenile court with the reduced charge of aggravated assault, and are released to the recognizance of their parents and Reverend Walton.

When a triumphant Walton leaves the courthouse with the four youths, Frank is driven to seek justice in his own way.

Programme Information

Aspect Ratio:
120 Mins
Year of Production:
TV Movies

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