The murder of Curtis Lemansky marked the beginning of the end for the Strike Team. They soon began spiraling toward their eventual demise.
Season Four Edit
While trying to locate the body of a dead CI named Angie Stubbs, Lem stole a brick of heroin from Salvadoran drug dealer Pittario and warned him that he would only give it back once he located the body. After finding the body and returning the heroin, Lemansky was told that he had returned a fake substance. In the final of Season 4, it is revealed that IAD found the heroin in Lem's car and switched it with the fake.
Season Five Edit
IAD used the heroin as leverage in order to make Lem wear a listening device, primarily to gather evidence about the Strike Team's role in the death of fellow Strike Team member Detective Terry Crowley. Kavanaugh stated he would imprison Lem for not only the drug theft but also for intent to sell the drugs, which would potentially land Lem in jail for 10 years. Kavanaugh also interrogated Lem about the murder of Detective Crowley. To Kavanaugh's amusement, Lem revealed that he was not involved in the plot. Kavanaugh decided to use this knowledge as a way to drive a wedge between Lem and Vic. Lem pretended to go along with Kavanaugh's plan, but managed to secretly tip off his friend Vic by staging a fight between the two that temporarily disabled the listening device and allowed him to inform Vic of what had happened. He also confronted Vic about Terry's death and when Vic hesitated before responding, Lem refused to let Vic answer the question, knowing that the answer would mean that Vic was responsible.
Despite this, Vic worked diligently to save Lem from Kavanaugh's clutches and ultimately convinced Lem that Terry's death was only indirectly Vic's fault due to him accidentally dropping his guard during the raid. With Lem's help, the team tried to outmaneuver Kavanaugh, which successfully resulted in Kavanaugh's humiliation during a botched sting operation. During a raid on a Salvadoran grenade factory, Lem heroically saved Kavanaugh from an active grenade tossed in his direction by rushing to grab the grenade and throwing it away from Kavanaugh seconds before it exploded. Kavanaugh responded to this act of selfless bravery by continuing to pressure Lem into turning against the Strike Team. Lem sharply refused to turn his back on his friends as Vic confronted Kavanaugh's cold treatment towards Lem, who could have easily let Kavanaugh be killed by the grenade but had risked his life to save him.
Things came to a head when Vic and Lem entered the security monitor room to have a private conversation only to see via the monitors, a rather private conversation between Kavanaugh and Kavanaugh's distraught, mentally ill ex-wife. Viewing their disturbingly private moment on the closed-circuit television, Vic remarked that they had found Kavanaugh's weakness. Kavanaugh eventually noticed the security camera in the room and the possibility that his conversation with his wife was being observed by his enemies led him to rush out of the interrogation room. While Vic and Lem fled the room before Kavanaugh could catch the two red-handed, the now enraged Kavanaugh ordered that Lem be arrested for possession of heroin with intent to distribute. Lem was handcuffed in front of his shocked fellow officers, placed in lockup with other criminals, processed, and sent to a detention center. Unknown to Lem at the time, Kavanaugh had seemingly arranged for him to serve time at the same prison as gang leader Antwon Mitchell, who wanted to have him murdered while in custody. Lem's bail was set at one-hundred thousand dollars while most of the Strike Team's assets were frozen under suspicion of lawlessness. This led the remaining three Strike Team members to turn to their friend Smitty to bail Lem out, using money they stole from a small-time pot dealer as bail money.
Lem soon became weary of just not knowing what would happen to the others, and the fears started aggravating his ulcer problem. In a move to seal the rest of the team off from prosecution, he pled guilty to theft under color of authority to serve 18 months before parole of a 5 year sentence. Although he and the team came to realize that being sent to the same prison as Antwon Mitchell was an idle threat, they still had to deal with Mitchell's One-Niner gang being spread across almost all California prisons; Lem's life would be at risk either way. Further, even if Lem did manage to survive 18 months, he would have to be dealing with constant conflict with One-Niners, making it unlikely he would qualify for early release. As Vic struck a deal with Mitchell to keep Lem safe, Lem entered the official plea, much to Kavanaugh's dismay. As the investigation came to a close, Kavanaugh paid Lem a final visit to apologize and explained that he had always thought Lem would finally give up Vic; he never wanted Lem to go to prison. He told Lem that, "...any man would be lucky to have you in his corner".
Soon after the plea was entered, however, Vic found that Kavanaugh had played his last card, starting an investigation of Lompoc Federal Penitentiary, which effectively caused Antwon to lose all the creature comforts he enjoyed. Additionally, Kavanaugh told Mitchell that Vic had been bragging about getting the better of Antwon, and a furious Mitchell told Vic that Lem was dead as soon as he came into the system. Desperate to save his friend from certain death, Vic convinced Lem to skip town on the eve of his court date, where he would plead guilty and be sent to prison. Vic prepared to transport the fugitive Lem to a ranch in Mexico to hide after the group were told that Lem's original deal was now null and void and that the only way for him to receive any break in terms of sentencing would be if he gave up the Strike Team.
As details of the Strike Team's crimes began to come to light, namely the Money Train heist, it also seemed that Lem had made a deal to give up the team in order to ensure his freedom. In reality, Kavanaugh convinced Councilman Aceveda to go to Vic and to lie about Lem agreeing to turn against the Strike Team in exchange for a new plea bargain in order to try and track the Strike Team to Lemansky. Vic refused to accept Aceveda's lie and continued to believe that Lem had not betrayed the Strike Team. Shane also believed Lem was loyal even though they were all told that he was going to rat out on them and even took some money out of his house payments in order to provide Lem with a stipend while he was in hiding.
Meanwhile, Lem was forced to abandon Vic's original plans for hiding him after he risked his freedom to help out a young child who had been left alone by his parents and had seriously hurt himself in his home's kitchen. Lem ultimately contacted Vic and arranged for a meeting with his friends, with Vic preparing the final details to get Lem across the border and into hiding in Mexico.
However, when it came time to meet with Lem, the team discovered that they were being tailed by Kavanaugh and his associate in an attempt to arrest them for harboring a fugitive. Shane, the only member of the Strike Team not being tailed, was able to meet with Lem at the place where the Strike Team were supposed to meet. After some discussion, Lem reveals he has no intention of running to Mexico and planned to turn himself in.
Shane tried his best to convince Lem to escape to Mexico. However, Lem refused and argued that being isolated from his friends and the world would be a lot worse that being in prison. Being left with no other choice and fearing that Lem would testify against the team, Shane changes the topic and metions that his wife Mara was pregnant with their second child, while secretly planning to murder his friend. Lem then enters his car and Shane gives him a sandwich. Lem thanks Shane and mentions that this is his favourite sandwich. While Lem is eating his sandwich, Shane quietly drops a grenade (taken from the raid on the Salvadorian grenade factory) in Lem's front seat. Shane then distances himself as the grenade blows, seemingly killing Lem. When the smoke cleared from the explosion, Lem was shown to be still alive. Lem survived long enough to see Shane break down emotionally and cry for him. After Shane's emotional break a few seconds later, Lem died.
Soon, the police swarm the area, with Vic and Ronnie also appearing. Enraged and saddened by Lem's death, Vic briefly fought with Kavanaugh (who believed Vic killed Lem as Lem's murder effectively puts an end to Kavanaugh's investigation against the Strike Team). As Vic was led away by Ronnie and Shane, Vic vowed to find and kill those responsible.
Season Six Edit
The remaining Strike Team members are one of the few people, who attend the funeral of Lem, who did not receive a motorcade or police funeral as Lem's lack of a department funeral and motorcade would prevent news headlines about Lem's "dirty dealings". While attending their friend's funeral, Vic, Shane and Ronnie discuss current leads about Salvadorian drug lord Guardo Lima, whom Vic believes was responsible for Lem's murder as the Salvadorians had recently began killing their victims with grenades and the Strike Team before had put an end to some of Lima's operations. Shane later meets Ronnie and Vic at Lem's grave site, where they give Lem an improvised "three-volley salute," though there are actually seven volleys as there are only three of them.
The next day, Shane discovers to his horror that Lem never had any intention of ratting out on the Strike Team. As a result, Shane's justification for Lem's murder was stripped away and he was consumed with guilt for killing Lem. Shane spends a moment, crying to himself over the fact that he murdered Lem with no justification and appears to be on the verge of committing suicide when he is interrupted by Officer Danny Sofer, who has arrived at the Barn to take care of some paperwork and to show off her son. Shane briefly holds the child before reuniting with the team.
Vic was determined to find Lima. Knowing that Lima wasn't involved in Lem's murder and because Guardo and his girlfriend are expecting a child, Shane tried to dissuade Vic from his pursuit of Lima. Shane's pleas were ignored, however as Vic lured Guardo out of hiding by kidnapping Guardo's girlfriend, kidnapped Guardo himself from his safe house and took Guardo to a secluded area. There, Vic proceeded to brutally beat Guardo with chains and finished him off with a bullet to the head as "revenge" for Lem's death.
Eventually, Vic finds out the truth about Lem's murder after reaching to a conclusion that neither Guardo nor Antwon Mitchell could have been involved in Lem's murder. Vic read a dossier on Lem's murder put together by Kavanaugh, revealing that, contrary to his earlier claims, Shane was not followed the night Lem died, which gives Vic ample evidence, motive, and a time frame to accuse Shane of the killing. Vic called Shane out at the same location where Lem was killed.
After Vic angrily confronts Shane about the new information, Shane confesses to his crime, attempting to rationalize it while also speaking of his shame and remorse and arrogantly tries to excuse his actions by comparing them to how Vic killed Terry Crowley as a way to protect the team. But an angry Vic rejects Shane's excuse, arguing that it is different because Lem was still loyal to the team while Crowley was a traitor. Vic screamed:
"I had the chance to pull the trigger on you once before; I didn't do it, and Lem lost his life because of it!"
Vic then warned Shane that he would kill him the next time he sees him. Shane drove away, but not without calling Vic a hypocrite. Knowing that Vic will try to murder him as revenge for Lem, Shane takes several measures to ensure his survival, beginning with a detailed description of the past crimes of the Strike Team, including names and photos, and threatened to make it public if Vic acted against him.
In addition, Shane also informed Ronnie about Vic's murder of Terry Crowley, attempting to drive a wedge between the two and possibly hoping to gain an ally. The news instead has the opposite effect, as Ronnie approached Vic, reproached him for not trusting his loyalty, and even tells Vic that he would have done a better job of keeping the murder secret than Shane ever could have. He then asked Vic how they will be able to put their problems with Shane behind them forever. During their interactions together, Ronnie makes no attempt to hide his disgust and hatred of Shane for what he did to Lem. In one episode, where Shane and Ronnie are on stakeout together, when Shane attempts to make idle conversation, Ronnie bluntly cuts him off, telling Shane "You want to chat up a buddy? Go find one."
Kavanaugh believed that Vic killed Lem and tried to frame him for Lem's murder. However, Kavanaugh's attempts to frame Vic backfire as he is eventually exposed by Dutch and Claudette and sent to prison.
Season Seven Edit
Shane returned to the Barn and began solving crimes like he used to and worked again with Vic and Ronnie, who seemed to have forgiven Shane for killing Lem. In reality, however, the two wanted to take out Shane as revenge for Lem's murder, especially Ronnie, who confides in Vic that he is sick of half day smiling at the "guy who dropped a grenade in Lem's lap". The Strike Team tried to clear any misunderstanding with the Armenian mob by arranging a drug meeting with armenian gangster Ellis Rezian, who was at war with Cruz Pezuela, because Vic lied to Pezuela that Rezian helded compromising information about Pezuela and because Vic also lied to Rezian that Pezuela was after him. Vic sent Shane to the meeting and sent hitmen (working for Pezuela) to take out everyone at the meeting, as this act would neutralize any further threat from the Armenian mob and would also avenge Lem's murder.
The hit failed, however as the hitmen only managed to kill Rezian and his henchmen, but not Shane who manages to survive and vowed revenge against Vic and Ronnie. Shane blackmailed/hired a convict to kill Ronnie (Ronnie had assaulted the convict), while Shane waited inside Vic's house to personally murder him. After the failed attempt on Ronnie's life, Vic was notified as to what happened and spared his own life by never entering his house.
At the Barn, the convict reveales the plot to kill Ronnie to Dutch and Claudette. Because of this, Shane, Mara and Jackson began to run and became fugitives in the state. They were nearly killed twice and were in desperate need of money to escape the country. Shane tried getting money for the family by robbing a few poker buddies, but they turned on him and got into a fight with Shane.
Mara inadvertently killed a woman and herself got injured, while trying to save Shane. A desperate Shane tried to do anything he could so that his family is not torn apart, however his attempts are unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, Vic strikes a deal with ICE - he confesses to every crime the Strike Team committed, in exchange for immunity and Shane and Ronnie going to prison for life. Using Shane's memoirs as a guide, Vic confessed to killing Detective Terry Crowley, Margos Dezerian, Guardo Lima and his many other crimes. Vic also tells agent Olivia Murray that it was Shane who killed Lem with the grenade.
After a phone conversation with Shane's lawyer, who tells Shane that it is inevidable for Shane and Mara to be sent to prison, a desperate Shane then phoned Vic and asked him for help or else he would tell everyone about all the crimes they committed together. Vic, however, in turn told Shane that he has striked a deal for immunity with ICE.
Shane was crushed to learn of Vic's immunity deal with ICE, realizing that his last hope of saving himself and his family had disappeared with it. Holding the upper hand at last, Vic sadistically taunted Shane, saying:
"The trouble with you, you're always trying to be as smart as me, but now I'm walking away clean and you're the pathetic asshole headed for Antwon Mitchell-ville."
He further threatened that, after Shane and Mara were sent to prison, he would visit their children in foster care and fill their heads with stories about what their parents were really like. A devastated Shane screamed, "You don't even get to look at my kids, EVER!" Vic grinned and retorted, "I'll send you a postcard from Space Mountain."
The fear of being sent to prison and losing your family as well as Vic's threats over the phone lead to Shane losing all hope of escaping with his family and as a result, Shane poisoned his own family with painkillers to spare them the pain of being torn apart and then went to the bathroom and started writing a suicide note. He couldn't finish the note, however, as his former colleagues from the Barn kicked down the doors and entered the house to arrest Shane for all the crimes he committed, including the murder of Lem. Intending to avoid capture and join his family, Shane proceeded to shoot himself in the head, committing suicide.
After selling out Ronnie to be arrested and sent to prison for all the crimes the Strike Team committed, Vic began his new work at ICE. Forced to wear a suit and tie, Vic was trapped in a cubicle, completely alone (much like his former partner Joe Clark) as his family disappeared in the witness protection program, his friends are forever gone and he himself is ostracised by the rest due to all of his crimes that are now exposed. He scattered his desk with pictures of his three children from his marriage with Corinne, and a photo of himself drinking beer with Lem. Originally, all four Strike Team members were on the photo. Vic had cut Shane and Ronnie out, due to the fact that Vic couldn't bear the thought of how Shane betrayed Lem and committed suicide and because Vic couldn't also bear the thought of betraying Ronnie to spend the rest of his life in prison - Vic's friendship with Lem was the only one that was left "untarnished" in his mind.
Reactions to the Murder Edit
Strike Team Edit
- Vic Mackey: Upon seeing Lem's corpse, Vic became emotionally distraught and also fought with Jon Kavanaugh, after Kavanaugh asked Vic if he was happy now, because Lem's murder ends Kavanaugh's investigation against the Strike Team. Vic sweared to avenge Lem after leaving the crime scene. After attending Lem's funeral, Vic captured and killed drug lord Guardo Lima as he believed that he was responsible for Lem's murder. In the sixth season, he realized that Shane killed Lem and angrily confronts him. Shane tries to defend the murder, by saying that he tried to protect the team and compared it to Detective Terry Crowley's murder, but Vic rejects the excuse, saying that Lem was still loyal, while Terry was a traitor. In season seven, Vic and Ronnie attempt to kill Shane and avenge Lem, but they fail as Shane survived and in turn tried to kill them, however the police find out about the murder plot and he and his family become figutives. Shane eventually killed his family and committed suicide after Vic told him about his deal with ICE - Vic confesses to every crime they committed in exchange for immunity.
- Shane Vendrell: Shane immediately regrets murdering his friend, but still believed that it had to be done. He was overcome with guilt, however, after he found out that Lem wasn't going to testify against the team. He even considered suicide, but was interrupted by Officer Danny Sofer. Upon finding out that Shane killed Lem, Vic and Ronnie stopped considering him a friend and threatened to kill him, however, Shane predicted this and threatened to make public a list of all the crimes the Strike Team committed over the years. In season seven, Vic and Ronnie attempt to kill Shane and avenge Lem, but they fail as Shane survived and in turn tried to kill them, however the police find out about the murder plot and he and his family become figutives. Shane eventually killed his family and committed suicide after learning that Vic striked a immunity deal with ICE and had told them every crime they committed, even telling them that Shane was behind Lem's murder.
- Ronnie Gardocki: Ronnie himself was shocked and distraught upon hearing of Lem's murder. Upon finding out that Shane killed Lem, he stopped being his friend and didn't try to hide his disgust and hatred of Shane for what he did to Lem. Ronnie was still shocked after learning that Shane committed suicide, even though Shane killed Lem and tried to kill them.
Other Police Officers Edit
- Lieutenant Jon Kavanaugh: Upon hearing of Lem's death, Kavanaugh was enraged and taunted Vic, implying that he was behind Lem's death since Vic already killed Terry and Lem's death ends Kavanaugh's investigation. Kavanaugh tries to frame Vic for Lem's murder, but his attempts backfire and he is arrested and sent to prison.
- Most cops came to the crime scene to pay their respects to Lem. However, very few of them attended Lem's funeral, because of the corruption charges against him.