Justifiable Homicide is a feature documentary based on the brutal murder of two Puerto Rican young men Antonio Rosario and Hilton Vega who were shot by two NYPD detectives in the Bronx in early 1995. The story follows Margarita Rosario, as she transforms from a mourning mother and Aunt to a powerful community activist, questioning the police officers' actions and raising the possibility of a cover-up.
A police inquiry affirmed the detectives' claims: that Rosario and Vega and third accomplice Freddie Bonilla (who survived the shooting) were shot while perpetrating an armed robbery. According to the report, the detectives opened fire in self-defense after the alleged robbers instigated a shoot-out. As far as the NYPD was concerned, the incident was over. Case closed - justifiable homicide.
Margarita Rosario, doubting the police version and realizing that one of the detectives who shot her son served as Mayor Giuliani's body guard in 1993, seeks help from the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), an independent city agency whose responsibility is to serve as watchdog over the NYPD. After a lengthy invesstigation, the CCRB report affirmed that the two detectives used excessive and unnecessary force. The City's response? The CCRB director along with the lead investigators are forced to resign. An independent Pathologist hired by the Margarita Rosario also counters the police version, demonstrating that all the shots struck the victims in their backs as they lay prone face down on the floor and not from the front as th City Medical Examiner's and the police had claimed.
With a legal system unwilling to address these profound inaccuracies, Margarita takes her anger to the streets, organizing protests and rallies. She soon realizes that there are many others who have lost family members to police action. Margarita responds by organizing Parents Against Police Brutality in order to unify their struggle against a system that seems to be stacked against them.
Margarita's words still echo loud, "I can not bring my son back but I can work to prevent other parents from suffering a similar loss".