Aloysius "Al" Reilly (Hutton) is a young assistant district attorney, still wet behind the ears. He is handed a case by homicide chief Kevin Quinn, an inquiry into a shooting by NYPD detective Mike Brennan (Nolte).
Brennan is something of a legend in the department. A tough, crude, decorated officer, he has a hidden dark side as well as a partnership with certain figures of organized crime. Brennan shoots and kills a small-time Puerto Rican hood and then threatens witnesses to testify that he acted in self-defense.
Reilly's case leads him to a Puerto Rican crime boss by the name of Roberto Texador (Assante), nicknamed "Bobby Tex," whose wife Nancy Bosch was once the love of Reilly's life. It results in violent confrontations between Texador, Reilly and the rogue cop Brennan.