SVU, Episode 4.12
Production number: E3115
First aired: 17 January 2003
  th of 476 produced in SVU  
th of 476 released in SVU
  th of 1229 released in all  
Stabler Risk
Written By
Robert F. Campbell & Jonathan Greene

Directed By
Juan J. Campanella


Episode plot


A woman runs out of her apartment, holding her baby and screaming that he is not breathing. Benson and Stabler are called to the hospital, where they are told that the baby is suffering a cocaine overdose. The mother denies giving her baby the coke, and the doctor is able to tell them that the drug seems to have been mixed in with the baby formula. The mother admits that she borrowed a can of formula from a couple whose apartment she cleans.

Benson and Stabler rush to the home of the Pfeiffers, who have a baby boy, and take away all the other cans of the baby formula for testing, as well as seizing those from the market where the Pfeiffers bought them. The lab reveals that one of the cans from the Pfeiffers' apartment contains 90% liquid cocaine, and that the baby formula was drained from the can before it was filled with the drug. None of the other cans, or the ones from the market, are tainted.

The FDA issues a recall of all the baby food of that brand, while the detectives are able to determine that the tainted cans came, not from the company's American plant, but from Mexico. A little more digging reveals that Derek Pfeiffer was bankrupt, until recently, when he mysteriously was able to pay off all his debts. They then get a message that the baby suffering from an overdose has died.

Munch and Tutuola go to speak to Derek Pfeiffer, who admits he was in Mexico, but to see a business client (he is some sort of Wall Street/investments person). Munch and Tutuola tell him to go with them to the police station, but as they are putting him in a car outside the building, internal affairs officers take him into their car. One of the officers, Tucker, tells them that Cragan signed off on it, and that he told them where to find the detectives.

Cragen is furious when he hears what Tucker said, as he by no means gave IAB the okay to take Pfeiffer. They storm into internal affairs where Cragen loses his temper. He instructs Stabler to try and find out what interest IAB have in the case and tells him to pick up Derek Pfeiffer again, since IAB has released him. When Benson and Stabler go to Pfeiffer's office, they find police officers already there, and find Pfeiffer strangled with a cord in the bathrooms on his floor.

Munch and Tutuola speak to Keith Gerard, Pfeiffer's immediate boss, who tells them that the security in the building should not have allowed this to happen. Meanwhile, Benson and Stabler talk to Mrs. Pfeiffer who says that she knows nothing about her husband's work, nor how he found the money to pay off their debts. The detectives offer her protection, but she says she will take her son and go to stay with her sister. She admits, nervously, that a man came to the door, asking for the formula, and showed her a police badge.

Tucker hears that SVU are still investigating the case and comes to speak to Cragen. He admits that several undercover operations aimed at cracking the baby formula ring have failed, and a dirty cop is suspected. Cragen insists that it remains SVU's case, and that their detectives will handle the undercover work.

Stabler is chosen to go undercover as he looks like the "clean-cut, corporate type." He goes to a bar where they suspect Derek did his business, and (with Benson inside the bar as backup), he allows the barman to see that he has some cocaine with him. The barman refers him to another man sitting at the end of the bar, whom Stabler follows into the bathroom, where he is roughed up a little, then made an offer. They arrange to meet at a dock to do business.

At the dock, another man shows up. Stabler is searched, then shown some cocaine which the two men offer to supply to him to sell at his office building. When he agrees to the deal, one of the men pulls out a gold shield and bundles him into the car and they drive away. Munch, Cragen, Benson and Tutuola, who are in other cars as backup, follow. The car stops, and Stabler is taken out and beaten up, so that the man with the badge can show he is "top dog". The man tells Stabler his name is Kendall and that Stabler now has to help them smuggle drugs from Mexico. They drive away and leave Stabler there.

Back at the station, the detectives look at Kendall's record. He is a decorated detective, who seems to have gone off the rails after a bad shooting incident. Stabler meets with Kendall again, in a restaurant, and they discuss money. Kendall reveals that he will have to take Stabler's demands to his boss, and that he will get back to him. Kendall calls Stabler with the mission; to find a reason to go to Mexico for business, and pick up some tiles made with cocaine, his cover story being that he is re-tiling his kitchen. Since Mexico is out of their jurisdiction, someone else is to pick up the tiles and they will then be delivered to Stabler's undercover house in Queens.

The tiles are delivered by Munch, pretending to be a deliveryman, and Stabler is just about to hand them over to Kendall when Benson comes out of the house, posing as Stabler’s wife. As the delivery truck comes back towards the house, Kendall realizes it is a sting and runs. Stabler follows him and draws his gun and when Kendall turns his gun on him he is forced to shoot him dead. IAB investigate the shooting and Tucker places Stabler on modified assignment until the investigation is completed he is confined to the office and cannot arrest or interrogate anyone. Meanwhile, DNA from the cord which was used to kill Derek Pfeiffer is a match to Kendall, who was probably working on a higher-up dealer’s orders.

The detectives discover that when Derek Pfeiffer flew to Mexico, his wife and the baby also flew there, but on a different airline. They realize that Mrs. Pfeiffer was the mule, as no one would suspect a mother carrying cans of baby formula. Benson and Cragen (since Stabler cannot leave the office) go to speak again with Pfeiffer's boss, Keith Gerard, about whether Pfeiffer's trips to Mexico were for legitimate business. He says that they were, but reveals that the Pfeiffers did not have children. Cragen speculates that whoever payed the Pfeiffers to smuggle drugs, probably has a ring of mothers with babies doing the same thing.

Benson and Cragen go to Staten Island to speak to Mrs. Pfeiffer at her sister's house. They can hear the baby crying, and find a window broken, and so they break the door open. They find the baby distressed but unharmed, and find Mrs. Pfeiffer and her sister shot dead in the kitchen. They discover that the baby is Mrs. Pfeiffer's nephew, and that Mrs. Pfeiffer was planning a one-way trip to Brazil to avoid prosecution.

The detectives begin tracking down similar cases where parents of babies have been killed execution-style. Stabler becomes very frustrated by this task, and is busy yelling at Munch when Kathy comes in to bring him something to eat. Cragen and Benson are called to a house in Queens were there has just been a murder which fits the pattern they are looking at: new parents shot dead. There appear to be no signs of forced entry. They discover that the father was a landscaper for Keith Gerard, and realize that he is in charge of the smuggling ring and has probably ordered the murders of all the parents in the ring so there are no witnesses against him.

Benson and Cragen go to Gerard's office, where his secretary tells them that he is down in the corporate day care center. They catch him walking out with a mother with a baby, and when Gerard sees them, he pulls a gun on the mother and holds her and her baby as a shield. Cragen and Benson lower their weapons, as if to let Gerard get away. He pushes the mother and her baby away and runs, but is stopped by Fin, who had snuck up behind him. While being arrested, Gerard said he can make Benson and Fin rich. Benson tells him to save it for a lawyer to avoid the death penalty.

Cragen gives Stabler his gun and badge back, and says that he made the trouble with IAB over the shooting go away. Stabler realises that Cragen must have pulled some pretty big strings to make it happen so fast. Benson comes in and tells Stabler that they found 10 other mothers involved in the smuggling ring, who Gerard probably would have killed. Stabler is clearly still distressed over the shooting, and Benson asks if he has spoken to a shrink about it yet. He says no, and asks whether it helped her to talk to a shrink after she shot a perp. She says it didn't help much.


Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast


Gregory Elliot; Dana Elliot; Forest Hills; Global Packaging Service


  • Keith Gerard: I could make you both rich.
  • Olivia Benson: Ah, you better save it for the fancy lawyer you're gonna need to appeal the death penalty.

  • Ed Tucker: You need anger management, Captain.
  • Donald Cragen: And you need to kiss my ass!

  • Olivia Benson (to Stabler, after seeing him stressed out): Elliot, maybe you gotta take a few vacation days.

  • Kathy Stabler: I brought you some dinner.
  • Elliot Stabler: Now's not a good time.
  • Kathy Stabler: You've got to eat.

Background information and notes

  • This is Detective Elliot Stabler's first on-screen shooting and kill. In this case it was Brad Kendall.
  • After this episode as Terrell, Ernest Waddell has become the recurring character Ken Randall, Fin Tutuola's son.
  • Goof: The day after Stabler gets beaten up by Kendall, he has a big cut on his bottom lip. Then, the next day, when he shoots Kendall, it's miraculously healed.

Episode scene cards

1 2 3

Pfeiffer Apartment
877 Riverside Drive
Monday, December 16

Chandler Hinton
Stock Brokerage
19 Broad Street
Tuesday, December 17

Fulton Fish Market
South Street Seaport
Wednesday, December 18

4 5 6

6432 99th Street
Forest Hills, Queens
Thursday, December 19

Draper Residence
85 Durant Avenue
Staten Island, New York
Friday, December 20

Flores Residence
40-02 Crescent Street
Dutch Kills, Queens
Friday, December 20

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