Conflict of Interest is a three-part video short-story written by Michael Connelly, and featuring FBI agent Rachel Walling. The short film was directed by Terrill Lee Lankford, and produced by Quixotic Productions.
The first chapter runs 8:09, the second chapter runs 9:32, and the third chapter runs 9:48. The story is part prequel and part sidequel to The Scarecrow.
From a command room, FBI Agents Rachel Walling and Brian Venable oversee a surveillance operation. They see a car pull into a parking lot that they are monitoring, and the driver wipes down the door and tosses the keys before abandoning the vehicle. Walling orders an agent to follow the driver, and heads out to check the vehicle herself. Venable calls Agent Canby to notify him of the situation, but Canby instructs Venable to leave the car alone since his assignment is the man in the hotel that he and Walling are monitoring. Walling reaches the parking lot and dons an earpiece, learning that the driver is still fleeing on foot; she finds the car keys and spots a white purse inside the Mazda Millenia, but detects no radiation on her EDD. She opens the car, then pops the trunk, finding the dead body of a naked girl inside with a plastic bag over her head.
Walling examines the body in the trunk until she is interrupted by a call from Agent Canby who instructs her to leave the vehicle with the girl and return to her surveillance operation. He reminds her that her current case is a matter of national security, with "the lives of a planeload of people" hanging in the balance. Canby orders Walling to return to her post in order to maintain "operational integrity," refusing to allow her to call in the body, even in an anonymous tip, because their "unit does not exist." Walling capitulates and calls off her agent following the driver, but tells Venable that she needs five minutes before returning. She quickly inspects the vehicle again, searching the purse to find the girl's drivers license and lifting a fingerprint off of the windshield mirror, then arranging the girl's slip in the trunk so that it hangs out visibly when she closes the lid. She returns to the command room, informing Venable that the dead girl's name was Denise Babbit.
The next morning, a Parking Enforcement officer on a bicycle finds the Millenia and spots the slip hanging from the trunk. She calls in the vehicle and requests police backup, then waits with the car until detectives from the Santa Monica Police Department arrive.
Three days later, Walling and Venable continue their surveillance at the hotel. Walling reads in the Los Angeles Times that a suspect has been arrested for Babbit's murder. Venable congratulates Walling on getting justice for Babbit, and Walling muses that she knows the reporter who wrote the story: Jack McEvoy. Venable snidely suggests that Walling call McEvoy and tell him that she single-handedly solved Babbit's murder, but Walling responds that what's done is done, and was more productive than waiting for six days on a terrorist who has not appeared.
Twenty-seven days into their surveillance operation, Agents Walling and Venable track a vehicle being driven by their target to a house in a residential neighborhood. Walling exits the van and pretends to be searching for a lost dog, while Venable and his agents prepare for a raid. Walling sees activity on her EDD, and as the gate to the driveway closes, she rushes inside, confronting an armed man named Ballard. She claims to be looking for a lost dog, but pulls her own gun and orders him to drop his weapon. He does, and Venable's team moves in to raid the house.
After the raid, Agent Canby arrives at the scene with a team of senior agents, and learns that the weapon that Ballard's team had acquired has been secured. Venable and Walling escort Canby and Bolender into the house where they inspect a Stinger missile that, according to its serial number, should be in Afghanistan. Venable informs Canby that the team also recovered $600,000 in cash, and explains that the sellers of the missile are retired military mercenaries, and that the intended target is still unknown. Canby dismisses the agents to complete their paperwork, but calls Walling back to chasise her for her actions in the Babbit case.
Outside the house, Venable laments that he feels used, and Walling agrees. As Venable heads back to the van, Walling receives a call on her cellphone from Jack McEvoy, who requests her help, claiming that he's in trouble.
- Julie St. Claire as FBI agent Rachel Walling
- Chris Bruno as Brian Venable
- James Remar as SAC Canby
- Sarah Lieving as Parking Officer Cortez
- Andrea Kennedy as Denise Babbit
- Tim Abell as Ballard
- Ted Monte as FBI Senior Agent Bolender
- Craig Susser as FBI Senior Agent #1
- Heidi Sobel as FBI Senior Agent #2
- Gary Bettman as FBI Senior Agent #3
- Mario Osuna as FBI Assault Agent #1
- Larry Powell as FBI Assault Agent #2
- Dave Power as FBI Assault Agent #3
- Cory Hensley as FBI Assault Agent #4
- Michael Malota as FBI Assault Agent #5
- Cinematography by Denis Moran
- Edited by Bill Shaffer & T. L. Lankford
- Production Design by Yuki Nakamura
- Music by Brandon Lankford (Chapter 2)
- Music by Jason Sobel (Chapter 3)
- Ric Griffith - steadicam
- Andreas Wood - assistant camera
- Brent Dilger - gaffer
- Matthew Newcomer - keygrip
- Nathaniel Bozen - swing
- Tim Hollenbaugh - sound
- Natalie Webb - make-up/hair
- Mario Osuna - "everything else"
- Colin Oh - production assistant
- Cory Hensley - production assistant
- Produced by Roger Wade & Gary Bettman
- Directed by Terrill Lee Lankford