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New York City Detective Joe Leland is assigned to investigate the grisly murder of Teddy Leikman, the homosexual son of a politically influential department store owner. Aware that a quick arrest and conviction will further his chances of promotion, Leland brings in the dead man's psychopathic former roommate, Felix Tesla, and succeeds in extracting a confession from him. After witnessing Tesla's death by execution and receiving a promotion, Leland makes a futile attempt to patch up his marriage to Karen. A short time later, he receives a visit from Norma MacIver, the wealthy widow of an accountant who fell to his death from the grandstand roof of a race track. Certain that her husband was murdered, Norma explains to Leland that all her efforts to investigate the death have been thwarted. In attempting to reopen the case, Leland encounters strong police opposition, particularly from a fellow officer, Lieutenant Curran, who hints that certain people would be willing to pay a large sum of money if the case remained closed. Following an attempt on his life, Leland examines MacIver's files and discovers that the accountant was involved with several members of the Borough Planning Commission in corrupt land speculation. Suspecting that MacIver's psychiatrist neighbor, Dr. Wendell Roberts, is concealing evidence, Leland breaks into his office. When Roberts unexpectedly comes in, Leland forces him to play a tape recording of one of MacIver's visits. The recording reveals not only MacIver's bisexuality but the fact that after being picked up at a bar by Leikman, his detestation of homosexuality caused him to commit the murder and then take his own life. Realizing that as a police officer he has been instrumental in sending an innocent man to his death, Leland removes his badge and decides to devote himself to exposing police and government corruption.