When a found cassette player is brought into the station, Lily reopens the 1973 cold case of a 21-year-old rookie cop who was shot while responding to a drug activity call in another district. On the tape are his last words: "Runner! Runner! Runner!"
Intro: July 20, 1973. Two rookie cops joke about their pregnant wives when they get a call for a domestic disturbance. Joe Washington tells his partner to head home to be with his family while he investigates. The scene ends with three gunshots and a dead Joe on the ground near an underpass by his cruiser.
Present Day: A woman brings Rush an old tape player she found in the garbage and insists she needs to listen to it. The woman was told that Rush handles the “old murders.” She reluctantly gives her name, Denise Funderbunk, and leaves upset when she finds out she won’t be getting a reward. Vera and Rush listen to the recording and hear someone scream, “Runner! Runner! Runner!” before three shots are heard followed by a passing train. A tech examines the audio and cleans up the sound to hear a PA system for Shanning Station. Jeffries pulls down the evidence box for them and requests to be on the case, as he knew Joe personally. His blood was found in a stolen vehicle that was abandoned two days after his murder along with an unidentified fingerprint.
They speak with Joe’s partner, Butch Rinaldi, as they patrol the murder scene.
Flashback: Butch recalls the night when Joe’s wife, Diane, came to the scene and broke down as Joe’s body was put in an ambulance.
Present: He tells them Diane miscarried a few weeks later. They inform Butch that Joe was murdered at about 1 A.M., an hour after their shift ended. Shanning Station was only five minutes away, but the detectives theorize Joe may have responded to a drug activity call in the Raymond Jennings projects which was outside of their district.
Rush and Jeffries speak to Miss Gloria who made the drug call. Despite thirty years ago, she says she remembers the call because the police actually showed up.
Flashback: That night, a black cop came and started arguing with a drug dealer. Gloria came out on the fire escape to see Joe push the dealer on the ground and the dealer respond with, “You ain’t better than me, just pretend you is.”
Present: Rush notes that the dealer knew him as Joe, and Miss Gloria mentions that Joe knew the area well enough to know not to park where the dealers would see him coming. When getting the dealer’s description, Miss Gloria says her eyes were never that good but that she heard the others call him, “The Runner.”
When trying to figure out Joe’s connection to the dealer, the team decides to talk to the widow. Rush asks about the significant monthly cash withdrawals. Diane says Joe bought her flowers every Friday and loved going to the movies, but that was all she knew about his spending habits. Rush asks what she remembers about that day, and Diane says they were discussing what to name their baby girl.
Rush and Vera visit Butch when he’s out drinking, despite Jeffries’s warning about a woman going to an all-male cop bar. A drunk Butch is dismissive of her inquiries and mostly addresses Vera. Rush asks if Joe was paying someone off, but Butch evades the question and insults her by announcing the reason she’s working cold cases is so she can “dust the old files” in the basement. Rush scrapes the old data and shows Stillman that the original detective interviewed DiAnte Rollins, a heroin dealer in the Raymond Jennings projects, to see if he knew The Runner. Rush and Jeffries visit Rollins in prison, now a converted Muslim who goes by Brother Jamal.
Flashback: Rollins tells them he saw Joe push The Runner down then head into one of the buildings. He came out with some clothes calling for a Sammy and hounds one of the dealers who tells him The Runner headed off for the tracks in a car.
Present: Rollins said Joe and The Runner were close before they fell out and even had the same knuckle tattoo. Rush and Jeffries look over the autopsy photo to reveal the words “Runner” across his knuckles.
They come to find Joe Washington was arrested at seventeen for dealing heroin and gave a false name which was how he cleared the background check for becoming an officer. Instead of growing up in a North Carolina orphanage, Joe grew up in the Raymond Jennings projects selling dope before joining the military, then the police academy. Rush talks to Diane again, who claims she never knew that stuff about him. She did however suspect Joe of cheating. She followed Joe one day and saw him being buzzed in by a Sammy. Diane never confronted him or told anyone to avoid sullying Joe’s reputation.
Rush and Jeffries head to Sammy’s address and find out from her grandmother that Joe grew up on the same floor and cared for her like a big brother, buying her toys and taking her out to have fun. Sammy’s grandmother talks about Joe fondly and admits he came to the house the night he was murdered.
Flashback: Joe bursts in and grabs some of Sammy’s clothes, telling her Sammy was working for Runner. Sammy’s grandmother says there’s little she can do to stop her and tearfully agrees that Sammy has to leave for a chance at a better life.
Present: Her grandmother says the drugs got worse after he died, and she hasn’t seen her in twenty years. When asked if she knew about The Runner, she reveals his real name is Mason Tucker. He and Joe were best friends who ran high school track together.
Rush and Jeffires visit Mason, now a Jaguar salesman, aboard his boat and ask about the fight. He says he doesn’t remember and claims that it was Joe’s fault Sammy got involved. Back at the precinct, the team puts the case together. Jeffries mentions DiAnte said that an altercation happened a few years before the murder and lead to Sammy being hospitalised. Vera then comes in and informs them the fingerprint in the abandoned vehicle matches Samantha Robbins. Rush finds Mason out jogging. When pressed for the truth, Mason tells her about a night he and Joe got high.
Flashback: Sammy walked in and wanted to “play.” They tell her to leave, but she picks up a needle and sticks it in her arm. After that, Joe and Mason split ways.
Present: Rush and Jeffries follow up on Sammy at a drug rehab and find out she was the one who brought them the recorder, using the name of one of the nurses. When they ask for her help, she angrily tells them of the night when Joe promised to take her home.
Flashback: After seeing Joe push Runner down, Joe confronts Sammy and chastises her for associating with Runner. They argue and struggle before hugging, and Joe promises to take her home and take care of her. He tells Sammy that “Mason don’t own you. You own you.” Joe takes the elevator up and flashes her the peace sign.
After some more prying, Sammy tells how Runner came back and took her to the underpass. Runner intimidates her, teasing her about what Joe said and telling Sammy that he owns her. They fight for a bit as the tape recorder drops to the floor and switches on. When sirens flash and Joe is seen yelling for Runner, he knocks Sammy out.
Present: When she woke up, she said they were headed back to the projects and Runner left her by the garbage dump near her apartment.
Rush confronts Mason in a church and tells him she knows what it’s like to run from what you've done. She plays the tape back and they listen to Joe call for Runner before getting shot. Shortly after, Mason is heard uttering the Lord’s Prayer. Mason admits that Joe was “the only love he had” and that he shouldn’t have tried to change anything. When Rush convinces Mason to forgive himself, he confesses to shooting Joe in the heart three times as Joe ran towards the car and is visibly shocked at what he did.
Outro: Mason Tucker is arrested and taken away in a police van as Sammy’s grandmother watches. Later, Lily drinks with Butch and the other guys and sees Joe at the end of the bar flashing the peace sign. She later goes to Diane, explains who Sammy was and introduces them to each other.
- Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush
- John Finn as John Stillman
- Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera
- Thom Barry as Will Jeffries
- Steve Ryan as Butch Rinaldi (2003)
- Dee Freeman as Samantha Robbins (2003)
- Cory C. Hardrict as Joe Washington
- Barbara Eve Harris as Diane Washington (2003)
- Rif Hutton as Mason "Runner" Tucker (2003)
- Marlene Warfield as Samuela Robbins
- William Stanford Davis as DeAnte Rollins (2003)
- Aldis Hodge as Mason "Runner" Tucker (1970 and 1973)
- Sheila Jerome as Diane Washington (1973)
- C.J. Jones as Junkie
- Tianna Danielle Kenney as Samantha Robbins (1970 and 1973)
- Cheselka Leigh as Jessica
- Ophelia Turner as Gloria Munez (2003)
- Matt Bushell as Butch Rinaldi (1973)
- Ryun Yu as Ray Chan
- C. Stephen Browder as DeAnte Rollins (1973)
- Unknown actress as Gloria Munez (1973)
- This episode is loosely based on the 1981 murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner. Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of this crime and sentenced to death row.