Case #5.17: "Copping Out"

If this is another Mac-centered bore fest, I may scream. You've got great characters in Judy and Joey, yet they keep throwing him at us. The episode opens with Cap'n Rufus and a woman (presumably his girlfriend) doing a little shopping at the supermarket. His girlfriend kind of looks like Oprah. Cap'n Rufus makes a remark about the amount of junk food in his girlfriend's cart. The girlfriend says it's not for her; it's for her 17-year-old son.

The woman introduces herself as Adrienne Wallace, so I was wrong about them knowing each other. She's in a hurry to get out of the store because she's double-parked. Cap'n Rufus tells her that's against the law. She challenges him to arrest her. "Okey-dokey," says Cap'n Rufus, flashing his police ID. Adrienne laughs and says it was nice to meet him. Cap'n Rufus agrees. Adrienne quickly corrects him when Rufus refers to her as "Mrs. Wallace." 

The cashier sees the coupons Rufus is carrying. Cap'n Rufus doesn't want to slow down paying for his groceries, so he says he'll use them another time. He wants to catch up with Adrienne. "Oh no, oh no," groans Adrienne, seeing a tow truck pulling away with her car attached to it. Cap'n Rufus gallantly offers her a ride. Theme song.

In the squadroom, Joey and Mac look at photos of houses that have been trashed. A lot of elderly people live in the neighborhood that's been targeted. What's more, all 4 of the vandalized houses are owned by people over the age of 70. Joey wonders if it's some sick new sport for bored, mean spirited kids. A tool with the initials CH on it was found at the latest crime scene; it was stolen from the metal shop at Carver High. 2 or 3 kids were seen running from the house. One wore a Carver High letterman's jacket.

Cap'n Rufus asks Mac to canvass the neighborhood for witnesses. Joey will be going to the metal shop class at Carver. Joey protests that he hates shop and is no good with his hands: "I'm more of a cerebral person." The fact he used that word correctly is jarring. "I like to brood," Joey goes on. Cap'n Rufus is unmoved.

Mac notices the dry cleaning bag on the captain's coat rack and guesses there's a woman involved. He wants to hear all about her. Rufus will only say he met her at the supermarket. Mac starts telling a story about meeting a girl at the laundromat, then having sex with her in the parking lot of said laundromat. Classy guy. Cap'n Rufus says it's not the same situation. Adrienne's car got towed, he drove her to the impound lot, they had coffee, and they're going out tonight.

In the Carver High metal shop, Joey comes very close to shredding his hand with some type of saw. Another student, Bob, pulls Joey's hand away. Bob shows Joey a project he's been working on in class and at home. Joey is surprised the teacher lets them take stuff home. Charles, a guy in a letter jacket, has a brief argument with a student who claims he left his hammer at home. The conflict gets violent.

By the end of the fight, Charles' nose is bleeding. The teacher, who didn't even try to break up the fight, says everyone will lose 5 points off their final grade if there's another fight.

Mac interviews Mrs. Dixon, an elderly lady who kicks off the conversation with, "You don't look old enough to be a policeman." He asks if she heard anything the night the Rosenbergs' house was broken into. The old dear can't hear very well these days. However, she did see the three kids running away. Mrs. Dixon elaborates that the same three kids have been roaming the neighborhood pressuring the residents to give them money. They took her wicker porch chair because she didn't give them cash. But Mrs. Dixon doesn't know the kids' names. She's afraid they'll be back.

Adrienne and Cap'n Rufus go to a nice restaurant for dinner. Adrienne works as an editor. Her ex-husband is a lawyer who moved to Atlanta but still calls their son. She warns Rufus that her son Charles has never liked any of the men she's dated since the divorce. They kiss in front of her house when Cap'n Rufus drops her off. Charles comes out onto the porch. Adrienne introduces him to Cap'n Rufus. The teenager isn't friendly.

Cap'n Rufus guesses he should go. "Uh-huh, you should," says Charles. Adrienne sternly says, "Charles Winston Wallace!" Rufus tells her good night. Mother and son go back in the house.

At the Chapel, Joey asks Mac if Mrs. Dixon reported a watch stolen. A kid in metal shop had an old-fashioned pocketwatch. Joey reports about the fight he broke up; one of the kids involved was wearing a letter jacket with a football patch. Cap'n Rufus suggests that Mac get a football team photo from Carver; showing it to Mrs. Dixon might jog her memory.

Joey and Mac speculate about whether or not Cap'n Rufus "got lucky" the night before. Adrienne interrupts their conversation, asking where she can find Rufus. The boys point her in the direction of his office. Adrienne goes inside. 

Cap'n Rufus smiles at Adrienne and tells her that he's been thinking about her all night. Adrienne apologizes for the way Charles acted. She invites him to come over for dinner that night. Cap'n Rufus offers to cook.

Mac knocks on Mrs. Dixon's door, but she doesn't answer. He peeks in the window and sees Mrs. Dixon sitting on the floor of her ransacked living room. Mac goes in the house. He offers to help her to a chair. "Don't you touch me!" shouts Mrs. Dixon, "I'll call the police, I will!" Mac picks up Mrs. Dixon's glasses and helps her put them on. "I am the police, remember?" he says gently. 

Mrs. Dixon keeps repeating that the burglars broke her mirror. Mac uses a lace doily to pick up a shard of glass, hoping they can get a fingerprint off it. Mrs. Dixon's arm is cut and she's wrapped a towel around it. Mac offers to call an ambulance. Mrs. Dixon says her niece is coming to drive her to a doctor.

Mac helps the lady into a chair and asks who hurt her. She whimpers that she couldn't call 911 because it happened too fast. He shows Mrs. Dixon a photo of the Carver High football team. She doesn't want to identify anyone, afraid the kids will follow her to her niece's house. "I want peace. I want to feel safe again," she cries.

In metal shop, Joey watches as Bob counts out a wad of money, which is handed to Charles. Back at the Chapel, Joey asks for time off to visit Doug. Cap'n Rufus promises he can go on vacation after the burglary case is closed. He asks Mac if he got a Carver football photo to show their witness. Mac reports that Mrs. Dixon was roughed up; she's physically okay aside from the gash on her arm and scared out of her mind. He doesn't know if anything was stolen.

Joey tells Cap'n Rufus about the pile of money being flashed during shop. He tells them about Charles and how it "looked like he was getting the cut of some deal." Rufus asks if Joey is sure the boy's name was Charles Wallace. He gets edgy when Joey says yes.

After dinner, Fuller casually asks Charles about himself. Where does he go to school? Charles says he's the starting fullback at Carver. Cap'n Rufus played quarterback; he suggests the two of them get together and toss the ball around on Saturday morning. Charles agrees and seems to have warmed up to Rufus too well. Charles leaves, saying he's going out with some friends. Adrienne informs Rufus that Charles has a 12:30 curfew.

After having sex, both parties talk about how long it's been since they've done that. Adrienne never expected to meet another man until after Charles graduated college. They had such a nice family dinner together and now Adrienne is afraid of ruining a good thing. Cap'n Rufus agrees that good things, like their connection, are rare. Adrienne thinks he better get dressed and leave before Charles comes home.

Cap'n Rufus asks what's become of his jacket. Adrienne tells him it's in the front closet and asks for a glass of water. Cap'n Rufus finds Charles' letterman jacket on the closet floor, which is really just a wardrobe. As he starts to hang it up, he notices a smear of blood on the cuff. Adrienne comes out of the bedroom wrapped in her robe and notices her son's bloody jacket. She thinks he must've gotten hurt roughhousing after practice. Cap'n Rufus isn't so sure.

Fade to Saturday morning. Cap'n Rufus and Charles play a little football. "If you think us playin' ball is gonna make it okay for you to see my mom, you're trippin'," says Charles. Cap'n Rufus tells Charles that he's not trying to replace Charles' dad and he really likes Adrienne. Rufus conversationally tells Charles that he didn't play football consistently enough to earn his varsity letter until senior year.

Charles got his letter as a junior. Cap'n Rufus remarks that he's never seen Charles wear his letter jacket. Dude, of course not, you've known the kid for like a week. Charles says his jacket is dirty and asks if Rufus is checking him out as a cop.

Later, Cap'n Rufus gets a backrub from Adrienne. He notices the nice silver necklace she's wearing. Adrienne brags that Charles gave it to her and it wasn't even her birthday, Mother's Day, or Christmas. It looks expensive to Rufus. Adrienne says Charles saved up for it by doing odd jobs around the neighborhood. "Most kids can't earn this kinda money," says Rufus. 

Adrienne chuckles and asks if Charles is suspected of something. "Everyone at his school is a suspect," says Rufus. She asks what they should do. Cap'n Rufus suggests they take a break from seeing each other until the case is over. Adrienne is okay with it. Cap'n Rufus asks her not to tell Charles about the investigation.

At the Chapel, Mac tells his boss that the only thing stolen from Mrs. Dixon was a sterling silver locket. "Oh man," Cap'n Rufus groans. The fingerprints from the mirror shard match a kid who was arrested last year. What kid, you ask? Why, Charles Wallace, of course. "Damn!" Fuller blurts out, "Charles Wallace is Adrienne's son. He gave his mom a silver locket this weekend." It's Mac's to groan: "Oh, ouch."

Fuller tells them about finding the bloody jacket. Joey reasons the blood could've come from the fight during metal shop. Mac wonders about the guys Charles hangs out with. "We don't have enough on either of them to do jack," says Joey. Cap'n Rufus wants them to stick to Charles and Company. Mac asks if they have enough evidence to bring Charles in. "Fingerprint, locket, jacket," Cap'n Rufus pronounces as though it's the Holy Trinity. He'll handle this himself.

At Adrienne's, Charles tells his mom that he doesn't like Rufus. Adrienne asks Charles to accept Rufus if they start seeing each other again. The doorbell rings. Adrienne is surprised to see Cap'n Rufus. He arrests Charles and advises Adrienne to get her son a very good attorney. 

In the interrogation room, Charles isn't talking. Cap'n Rufus tells the teenager that his fingerprint was found in Mrs. Dixon's house. Charles claims he occasionally mows her lawn and cleans her house. He insists he didn't hurt her. Cap'n Rufus brings up the locket. Charles says Mrs. Dixon gave it to him because he cleaned her attic. 

Charles accuses Rufus of jamming him up because Charles doesn't like the captain seeing Adrienne. Cap'n Rufus asks about the blood on Charles' jacket sleeve. Charles hid it because his mom doesn't like him fighting. 

When Cap'n Rufus emerges, Mac lets him know that Adrienne is waiting in the office. Once their boss is out of earshot, Joey asks, "Think we should hold off on that wedding present?" Cap'n Rufus tells Adrienne that he's releasing Charles into her custody. Adrienne insists her son is innocent. "You never told me he had a record," says Rufus. Adrienne says it was petty; he broke a few windows because he was angry about the divorce. She accuses Rufus of thinking she's a bad mother and storms out.

Joey and Mac cautiously stick their heads in. Mac tells Cap'n Rufus, "You didn't have any choice but to arrest her son." Joey saw Bobby and Davey sneak tools out of metal shop. The boys must be low on cash and off to rob some more senior citizens. 

The three go to the neighborhood and park on the street. They see Bobby and Davey hanging around like they're waiting for someone. Charles arrives. The trio knocks on the nearest door. "If they go inside or start to do anything to the outside, we move," says Cap'n Rufus. The teens push their way into the house. The cops get out of their undercover car.

In the living room, the boys threaten an elderly couple. Cap'n Rufus orders the teens against the wall. Charles makes a break and Rufus follows him. Cap'n Rufus warns that running will only make the penalty worse. Charles is young and can fix his mistakes. Rufus gets a good look at the kid and realizes it's a different black football player. This episode's title is certainly accurate. What a copout!

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