Detectives Moreland and McNulty discuss murdered witness William Gant with the coroner. McNulty believes the Barksdale organization had Gant killed to send a message to people in the projects not to testify against them; Bunk, who is the primary investigator on the murder, is skeptical that anybody would kill a witness after they had already testified. McNulty visits Judge Phelan to inform about Gant. Based on Phelan's pressure, Burrell orders Lieutenant Daniels to let McNulty work the case, hoping to keep the murder of a witness quiet. Mollified, Phelan agrees not to call the media about the murder.
Daniels and his detail arrive at their new office - a damp basement with little furniture. The rest of the detail is introduced, but Daniels dismisses them all as useless "humps", especially after officer Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski accidentally discharges a bullet from his weapon. When Daniels visits ASA Pearlman to complain, she tells him that Prez was once indicted for shooting his patrol car. Daniels confides that he feels that Burrell sent him a message by not allowing him to pick his detail. Daniels meets with Lieutenant Cantrell and convinces him to assign detective Leander Sydnor (Cantrell's best man) to the detail to balance taking Prez (his worst).
Detectives Carver, Greggs, and Herc photograph Bubbles as he marks Barksdale dealers with colored hats, under the guise that they are for sale. When Greggs brings Bubbles in to identify the photographed drug dealers, McNulty is impressed with the technique and surprised by the scale of the Barksdale organization.
Bunk and McNulty visit D'Angelo Barksdale in the low-rise projects to discuss the Gant murder. D'Angelo is reluctant to say anything and when he attempts to leave, Bunk and McNulty bring him in. In the interrogation room, McNulty and Bunk try to convince D'Angelo that he was responsible for Gant's death. D'Angelo is moved to begin writing a letter to Gant's family, but Barksdale attorney Maurice Levy arrives and stops him before he can write anything possibly incriminating. Greggs and McNulty show the letter to Daniels who is skeptical about its usefulness in building a case. Now free, D'Angelo later takes his girlfriend, Donette, and their son to a family party, where his uncle Avon rebukes him about the letter.
While drinking late at night, Herc, Carver, and Prez decide to intimidate the tower operation. Prez pistol-whips a young man, Kevin Johnston, in the face for leaning on his car. This prompts a hail of missiles such as beer and liquor bottles, televisions and other household appliances thrown from the towers, and ultimately gunshots. Herc is hit by some glass as Carver calls for back-up but is not seriously hurt. The next day, Daniels berates Herc, Carver, and Prez for their foolishness and asks them to admit who hit Johnston. Prez steps forward and Daniels instructs him to lie about his actions and suggests a story. He warns Prez that he must be convincing or he cannot protect him.
McNulty is awakened by Bunk calling to tell him to look at the newspaper; the Gant murder is on the front page, and the Judge is quoted in the article. Homicide Major Rawls is enraged. McNulty again visits Phelan, who denies being the one who started the story and quickly leaves McNulty. Later, McNulty gets drunk alone. Daniels has dinner with his wife Marla and she reproves him for covering up the brutality. She counsels him the best course is to not get involved in the case as his superiors do not want it. Daniels is awakened later with the news that Johnston has been blinded in one eye.