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Poppin' Tags
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Season 6
Number 20
Writer Dustin Lee Abraham
Director Bryan Spicer
Original Airdate April 13, 2006
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Previous Episode: Spellbound
Next Episode: Rashomama

Poppin' Tags is the twentieth episode in season six of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

Three teens putting up flyers for a rapper's new album are gunned down with a high-powered weapon stolen from a Las Vegas SWAT team member. The investigation reveals that the murders may be linked to a rivalry between two rappers.

Plot

Victims: Gentra Kendric (deceased), Ray [no last name given] (deceased), Marvin [no last name given] (deceased)

On the case: Entire team

While fireworks go off in the distance, three teens dressed in all black look around to make sure the coast is clear. One teen climbs a palm tree covered in posters and gets shot in the process. Grissom and Nick are called to the scene; the teen is still hanging from the tree while the other two are dead close by. None of the teens have IDs on them. Nick wonders if this is part of a gang war; however, Grissom notes the flyers on the tree and a staple gun near one of the bodies.

Nick finds no personal effects or ID on the teen in the tree. On the ground, Doc Robbins reveals that one of the victims is a female. Her legs appear to be flattened and Warrick finds a bloody metal rod under one of them. Based on the wide distribution of the bullet casings, Warrick guesses that the killer was moving when he was shooting. They may be looking at a drive-by shooting along with a hit-and-run.

Bobby Dawson tells Nick that he ran one of the bullets in IBIS and got a hit off of the firing pin impression. The weapon is an H&K MP5, which is quite an expensive gun for a street shooting. The gun is actually registered to the LVPD SWAT team and was stolen from them during a drug raid six months ago on Vegas Valley and Sandhill.

Hodges informs Warrick that the metal rod is a part of a custom hydraulic cylinder, meaning the car they're looking for is probably a low rider. The size and shape of the rod is a match for a brand called "Red's." Paint traces from the rod indicate that the car is painted Chesapeake Blue Pearl, and Hodges notes that Red's auto parts are individually serialized.

Nick and Warrick visit the garage and give a guy named Marcus the serial number information on the rod. When he enters the information into the computer, the name Jeremiah Calvin pops up; however, he deletes the information and tells Nick and Warrick that the serial number isn't showing up. They can tell that Marcus deleted the information and make him an offer - in order to make it look like he didn't rat out his friend, they pretend to muscle him off the computer so they can get the information themselves instead of having the police come to the garage. Marcus relents and lets Warrick look at the computer. Warrick finds the Jeremiah's name and address, and Nick notes that the address (Sandhill) is where the SWAT gun was stolen.

Nick and Warrick travel to Jeremiah's address and sit in a car in an alley across the street waiting for police backup. Jeremiah arrives in his blue Impala, but immediately leaves after spotting the two CSIs. They follow Jeremiah for a few blocks before he finally stops in an alley. He appears to reach for something in his car, then gets out of it to confront Nick and Warrick. Nick exits the car and points a gun at Jeremiah who refuses to back down. When Jeremiah says that he might have a gun pointed at Nick through his waistband, Warrick slams him into their car. Their backup arrives and Jeremiah is arrested; however, no weapon is found on him.

Under interrogation, Jeremiah tells Brass that he's not the owner of the blue Impala and that it's registered to his grandfather. He adds that two nights ago, he was working as a deejay. When told that the police will search his house and tie a crime to every gun found, Jeremiah says that if he had killed anyone, there wouldn't be a gun to be found.

Catherine, Det. Vega and some uniformed cops search Jeremiah's house; no guns are found. They are informed that Jeremiah's brother Morris also lives in the house and that he has been in his room all day. Catherine and Det. Vega search Morris's room; when they open a closet door, Morris falls out and starts seizing. There is a welt on his lower leg. Morris is taken to the hospital, where his doctor says that he has tetanus and has extracted a staple from his leg. Bacteria on the staple got into the bloodstream and caused lockjaw, which is why Morris hasn't been able to speak. Catherine has him write down anything he knows about the murders and he writes down a dollar sign.

Sara process the blue Impala and finds a bullet casing along with blood drops and gunshot residue. There are also two sets of fingerprints on the car's dashboard. She relays her findings to Catherine, Grissom and Nick and says the blood from the car belonged to one of the victims. Catherine says that Morris was definitely at the scene, as his blood was found on the staple gun. However, since no gun was recovered at the scene, they can't confirm that Morris was the shooter. Grissom notes that the object of a drive-by is to shoot as much as you can as fast as you can, then leave as fast as you can. So, why did Morris get out of the car? The victims had nothing on them to take, except for an empty satchel on the victim in the tree. Grissom says that the victims had posters on them. When Nick replies that they don't know which posters the victims put up, Grissom says that they can figure out what they stapled.

Nick and Warrick pull the posters down from various parts of town and save the staples. In the lab, Greg compares the staples to the one pulled out of Morris and eventually finds a match. The back of the torn poster reads that it's from "Troy's Copies." At the copy shop, owner Troy Thompson recognizes the torn poster and matches it to a poster of a rapper named Dollar. The poster, called "Dollar - Dudes Gone Nutz," features Dollar in a bikini. Troy is shown photos of the victims and says that one of them ordered the poster a few days ago and paid in cash. Greg examines the poster with a magnifying glass and sees that it's a still frame from a video. The poster is taken back to the lab as evidence.

Greg tells Nick that Dollar, whose real name is Jesse Cleveland, grew up in Vegas and had his first CD go platinum. A web search turns up a video of Dollar wearing a bikini and being held at gunpoint. On the video, a male voice tells Dollar to lay on the bed and admit to being gay. Greg says that the video is now all over the Internet, and Nick thinks that this definitely motive for murder.

Greg and Brass visit Dollar's hotel room, but don't find him inside. The concierge tells them that Dollar and several other rappers are in town for a clothing convention, as every rapper has their own clothing line. She adds that Dollar's car is still in valet. Outside of the hotel, they find Dollar's Range Rover and see a trunk in the back of the car. When they open the the trunk, they find Dollar inside wearing a bikini with a gag in his mouth. Nick offers Dollar reassurance that they will get him immediate medical attention, but Dollar says that he doesn't want to be seen in his current state and locks himself back inside the trunk until they get to the hospital.

In the hospital, Dollar is confused as to why the police want his prints, as he was the one stuffed into a trunk - twice. When asked about the video, Dollar tells Nick and Brass that he remembers leaving a party and passing out when he got to his hotel room. He then woke up to find a gun pointed at him by a guy wearing a mask. Dollar tells them that he has a long list of enemies that could have done this to him.

Sara tells Nick that nobody has come forward to identify the three slain teens. Using headshots of different male and female subjects, Grissom is able to digitally give the teens new looks, making them a little more recognizable. A woman comes forward and tells Sofia that the female victim is her daughter Gentra. Gentra had joined a "street team" - a group of kids who hit the streets to promote their favorite rapper. In this case, they were working for and promoting rapper Hi-Def. Gentra's mother says that she can't afford to bury her daughter. When told that she will be cremated, the mother tells Sofia to send the ashes to Hi-Def.

Nick, Sara and Sofia fashion show's after party, which is in full swing with girls and music. Sara and Sofia speak with Hi-Def and his manager. Hi-Def is unable to identify the three teens from their photos, but his manager recognizes them, calling them Ray, Marvin and Gentra. When asked where the kids got the poster of Dollar, the manager shows them a video of the incident on her phone. She adds that the video showed up on her desk one morning in a plain manila envelope and that she may or may not have put the video on the Internet, since Dollar and Hi-Def had a rivalry.

Meanwhile, Nick makes his way over to Dollar's crew and talks with Drops, a member of the team. He tells that three teens were killed putting up posters of Dollar in the compromising position. Neither Drops nor the street team recognize the deceased teens from their photos. When Drops hands the photos back, Nick can see visible fingerprints on them.

Sara informs Nick that the prints recovered from the photos match unknown prints from the blue Impala - one set was on the passenger side door handle, while the other set was on the steering wheel. Brass goes to the hospital and tells Dollar and Drops that he needs to speak with their street team. When the team returns from the cafeteria, they spot the police and casually try to leave. Their attempt is unsuccessful.

The two members of the street team, Ben and Dante, are questioned at the police station. Ben tells Sofia that all he wanted to do was drive the car and that he didn't shoot anybody. When he saw the poster of Dollar, he told the rest of the team against his best judgment. Morris, Dollar's biggest fan, insisted that they drive back to where Ben saw the poster and wait for Hi-Def's street team. When the team arrived, Morris started shooting them as revenge for them making Dollar look bad. Meanwhile, Dante tells Brass that he was riding shotgun in the car and that Morris was out of his mind. He says that gun was in the trunk and that Morris had gotten it from his brother. The gun is now dismantled and thrown away.

Nick goes through Dante's satchel and finds a wood splinter in it. He then re-watches the Dollar video and focuses in on the gun the perpetrator was using and sees that it had a wood handle. Nick is able to digitally match the wood from the handle to the splinter found in the satchel, meaning that Dante was the one that shot the video. Grissom asks why Dante would do so if he was part of Dollar's street team, and Nick notes that the perpetrator in the video says "who's the bitch, now?" This was personal.

After coaxing from Grissom, Nick goes through the files of everyone involved in the case. He sees that Dollar is famous for his "Chicks Gone Wild" videos and that Dante has a sister, Tisha. A past video is shown with Dollar promoting the series and Tisha jumping on the bed in a bikini.

Tisha is brought in for questioning; she has some scars on her face. She tells Nick and Brass that, a year ago, Dollar recruited her for the video and paid her $500. Dante found out about the video and cursed her out, but did nothing else. However, when her father saw the video, he called her a whore and a slut. He then took his car keys and slashed Tisha's face, chest, and stomach. Unable to find his father, Dante blamed Dollar for all of this and joined his street team to get his revenge. Tisha claims that Dante didn't mean for anyone to die; he was just doing this for her.

In the final montage, both Nick and Brass receive brand new suits from Drops; obviously, they can't accept them. Hi-Def gets a different gift - the ashes of Gentra Kendric. Another street team is shown stapling a new poster over Dollar's old concert poster.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

Music

  • Put 'Em in Their Place by Mobb Deep
  • Snitch by Obie Trice (ft. Akon)
  • Poppin' Tags by Jay-Z

Notes

  • This episode marks the first appearance of Method Man as Drops.

Trivia

  • Rappers Method Man, Akon and Obie Trice all appear in the episode. While Akon and Obie Trice played themselves (and were uncredited), Method Man played Drops, his first of several appearances as the character.
  • Michael B. Jordan played Morris Calvin. He would become a well-known actor recognizable for his roles in the movies Creed and Black Panther.
  • Travis Barker played Hi-Def. Barker is best known for being the drummer for the band Blink-182.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 6
Bodies in MotionRoom ServiceBite MeShooting StarsGum DropsSecrets and FliesA Bullet Runs Through It, Part 1A Bullet Runs Through It, Part 2Dog Eat DogStill LifeWerewolvesDaddy's Little GirlKiss-Kiss, Bye-ByeKillerPirates of the Third ReichUp in SmokeI Like to WatchThe Unusual SuspectSpellboundPoppin' TagsRashomamaTime of your DeathBang-BangWay to Go
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