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That last offered a small, conspiratorial smile, which he returned.
“Hal,” he began, “why don’t we start with you. What have you found?”
“Well, our investigation isn’t complete yet, but it looks like a meth lab blew up,” Hal responded. “We’ve got residues of a dozen chemicals in concentrations I would expect from that sort of enterprise, plus the hardware—broken, of course, but still identifiable, and definitely from that garden-level apartment.” He sighed and looked unhappy. “The fire didn’t really get going until it was burning the other apartments … and by the time it got done with the … second floor—the collapse of which kept our evidence from burning up….” He stepped forward and dropped something on McCoy’s desk.
It was a warped disc of charred metal, nearly identifiable as—
“Mike’s badge?” McCoy asked grimly, fingering the disc.
Hal nodded and took it back. “The fire burned hot enough to soften the metal.” He hesitated. “I’m sorry, Jack, but it doesn’t look like he has anything left. We found a couple of spines of books, some malformed pots and pans … a couple of pieces of silverware that looked okay … some electronic components. Everything else got burned to ash.”
“As touching as this is,” the IA sergeant—Cole?—interjected impatiently, “we’re here to determine whose investigation this is.”
“No, we’re here to piece together what we have,” McCoy corrected, pinning the sergeant with a quelling look. “And where we—all of us—go from here.”
“Your investigation has led to an officer of the NYPD,” Cole continued, annoyed. “That gives Internal Affairs jurisdiction.”
“We don’t know where this investigation is ultimately going to lead,” McCoy retorted. “Given what I’ve heard so far, I think it’s entirely possible that someone at Internal Affairs has a hand in what happened. Until that’s straightened out, you have company. Get used to it.”
Van Buren and Salazar exchanged repressed smiles.
“Your turn, Sergeant.”
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment on an ongoing investigation,” Cole said stiffly. McCoy’s eyes snapped.
“Do you really want to be having this conversation with me right now?” he demanded.
The two men stared at each other for a moment longer in a silent battle of wills before Sipowicz spoke up.
“Officer Bob Johnson took all three of those calls,” he said. “He told me this morning.”
“He told you?” McCoy repeated with an upward quirk of his eyebrows.
“I convinced him that it would be in his best interest to fess up.” Sipowicz glanced down, then met McCoy’s eyes. “I couldn’t get him to tell me who his accomplices were … and he implied—strongly—that it would be my career that would end over this, not his.” Sipowicz chewed his lip. “Johnson’s incompetent. He shouldn’t be a cop, and I don’t want him in my house.”
Cole snorted. McCoy turned back to the sergeant, eyeing him irascibly. “You have a question pending, Sergeant.”
Cole rolled his eyes and shook his head slightly. “Bob Johnson is incompetent,” he confirmed. “He’s been moved from precinct to precinct for fifteen years because of it.”
“Then why the hell does he still have a badge?”
Cole shrugged slightly. “He’s been investigated before, and he’s been disciplined. But his rabbi looks out for him.”
“Who is this rabbi?” McCoy demanded quietly.
“Deputy Chief Bruce Martins.”
“And … Martins is still looking out for this guy?” McCoy asked, baffled. “Why?”
No one answered.
“Was he afraid that Johnson’s incompetence would reflect badly on him? I’m sorry Sergeant, but the sheer number of people mentored by a given individual … statistics dictate that one or two of them are going to be duds.”
Van Buren bit her lip and looked down.
“Even yours?” Cole asked interestedly—and pointedly.
“Oh, hell, yes,” McCoy growled. “So why the concern about this guy?”
“It appears that the Deputy Chief joined Officer Johnson during his … drug … infractions,” Bernard responded tactfully, earning a double-barreled glare from Cole. Ignoring that, Bernard continued, “I would guess that Deputy Chief Martins was afraid of that information coming to light if Johnson were dismissed.”
“So, instead, he … waited until the guy actually killed somebody,” Van Buren said disgustedly, managing to give Bernard an approving look at the same time, and McCoy muttered something unintelligible. Louder, he asked,
“That pretty well covers it,” Cole said. McCoy nodded thoughtfully, hooding his irritation.
“Detective Lupo, Detective Salazar, what have you found?”
“We visited the One-Five and took a look at their phone log,” Lupo began. “We found that it was missing a page for the date that Cutter would have reported … uh, his neighbor’s … activities … the ME seems to think it was a meth lab, too. When we dumped his—Cutter’s—phone, we found three calls to the One-Five that we think were Cutter reporting something. TARU said that the digital phone log had been … uh, cleansed, too.” He glanced at the door, brow furrowed. “Beck was supposed to be here. I don’t know where he is.”
“I’m, uh, supposed to be up at the DA’s office,” Beck offered unhappily. “As of … uh, fifteen minutes ago.”
“C’mon, Beck,” the other technician cajoled, annoyance beginning to show in his expression. “This’ll take, like, two minutes.”
“Then get someone else to do it,” Beck retorted. “I’ve gotta go.” He grabbed his jacket and laptop and walked away, glancing back only when he was halfway down the hall.
The other technician was watching him with a calculating expression Beck didn’t like. As soon as he was out of sight, Beck pulled out his phone and, juggling his laptop, began a text message:
“1Gmen, is NYPDGeek4. Need favr.”
Link to [Part 33]