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Everything You Need to Know About Chicago P.D.'s Kevin Atwater
LaRoyce Hawkins plays the officer on Chicago P.D. who has perhaps grown the most since Season 1.
Throughout all 10 seasons of Chicago P.D., audiences have watched Officer Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins) grow from a low-ranking patrol cop into one of Chicago's most trusted officers. Beneath his professional growth, Atwater has also been on a heartfelt journey of emotional growth, balancing his big heart with his job duties and always standing up for what he believes in.
Look back on the beloved character's full history, from highlights to polarizing choices, as he gained the trust of Sergeant Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) and the rest of his squad.
Kevin Atwater went undercover.
After spending most of Season 1 dealing with tricky orders from Desk Sergeant Trudy Platt (Amy Morton) with the help of his partner Officer Kim Burgess (Marina Squerciati), Atwater got to really prove his prowess in Season 2.
In Episode 6 ("Prison Ball"), Atwater went undercover as an inmate to solve the murder of a 10-year-old girl.
He was ultimately successful in getting the confession they needed to get justice for the girl's death, but he had to fight off two men after his true identity was revealed.
Kevin Atwater had custody of his sister and brother.
Throughout the first few seasons of the show, fans watched as Atwater garnered the respect of his department—but his life outside of work was far from easy. His siblings, Vinessa (Zoe Ishmael and Bobbi MacKenzie) and Jordan (Ahmad Nicholas Ferguson and Kylen Davis), needed his help and brotherly guidance on more than one occasion, culminating in many a hard decision-making moments for the officer.
This tender sibling relationship came to a head in Season 5, Episode 5 ("Home"). After witnessing a crime, Jordan was called to testify, and people in the neighborhood attempted to intimidate him out of taking the stand by confronting his sister, Vinessa. As tensions rose, Atwater made the hard decision to send his siblings off to Texas to be safe with their aunt.
"At the end of the day, sarge, I won't forgive myself if anything happened to those kids," Atwater told Voight in a somber moment. "So I made the best decision, for them anyway. For the family."
Atwater covered up a murder.
It certainly sounds bad, but Atwater was stuck in a tough spot and chose to do what he thought was best, regardless of the law. In Season 6, Episode 8 (Black and Blue"), the team was in pursuit of a violent drug lord who was murdering young boys.
One of the boys confronted the drug lord and fatally shot him in an act of self-defense. He later confessed this act to Atwater in an emotional scene. "Are you gonna arrest me?" the boy asked. Instead of doing so, Atwater threw the murder weapon in the river, ensuring that the young boy was safe from persecution.
This polarizing choice gave fans deeper insight into Atwater's character, and was ultimately praised by One Chicago viewers.
He was shot in Season 6.
Although One Chicago fans' pleas for more Atwater in Season 6 were answered, the character's storylines were all but easy. Always a beacon of bravery, the officer's biggest injury on the job happened when he was pursuing armed suspects in Season 6, Episode 11 ("Trust"). Atwater was walking with a young boy who was attempting to help him catch a perpetrator when a drive-by shooter fired and hit the boy.
Atwater valiantly ran after the car and was shot in the shoulder in the dramatic chase.
Atwater confronted Voight about racism.
One of Atwater's biggest, most complex storylines began in the middle of Season 6 and haunted him up to Season 8. Atwater worked with Chicago officer Tom Doyle, a cop who had a lot of family in the force. Doyle had profiled Atwater while he was undercover, held him at gunpoint, and fatally shot the suspect he was with, yet was up for detective when we met him a year later.
Doyle and Atwater ended up needing to work together for an undercover arms bust in Season 7, Episode 20 ("Silence of the Night"). After they successfully arrested the suspect, Doyle convinced Atwater to get a beer with him, but on their drive, Doyle became convinced that a Black man on the street was selling drugs.
Doyle began yelling at the man, ultimately leaving Atwater in the car to chase the man into a building before firing shots. Doyle wound up dead when the people in the building shot him in self-defense, causing an uproar in the Chicago police community.
In the hunt for answers, Voight and Detective Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) interrogated two Black men who were on the scene, who both say that Doyle shot at them first. Voight didn't believe the story and began to intimidate and hurt one suspect when Atwater stepped in.
"I think they're telling the truth," he said to Voight. "There was no probable cause. Doyle saw a Black man walking down the street and started profiling."
Voight replied, "If what you're saying is true, then we've got a big problem."
"It's true," Atwater confirmed. "I can't just sit on this, I've got to say something."
After the rest of the city heard the truth, Doyle's family and friends intimidated Voight and Atwater to get them to stop accusing Doyle of a corrupt murder—going so far as to stalk Atwater.
Fans backed the choice to confront Voight and stick to the truth, praising Atwater's conviction.
Atwater got in hot water after he was involved in a shooting that went viral.
In the most recent season of the show, Atwater faced potential job loss and arrest after a foot chase went awry. It resulted in the shooting death of a young boy that was caught on film and went viral. Knowing that he was innocent, he refused to accept a deal that would allow him to keep his job, waiting instead for the truth to be revealed.
Finally, one of the perpetrators involved in the chase revealed the location of his phone, which has a video proving Atwater's innocence. He was cleared of the charges and turned around to comfort the family that was accusing him.
He addresses his complicated relationship with his father.
We've long known that Atwater was in charge of his siblings from a young age, but Season 10, Episode 11 ( "Long Lost") and Season 10, Episode 19 ("The Bleed Valve") gave deeper insight into the family's past.
Atwater spots his father, Lew (Erik LaRay Harvey) while taking photos of a crowd and says, "Oh, hell no, I think my dad is here." Burgess asks if he wants to see him, but Atwater says that if his father wanted to be in his life, he would have reached out upon leaving prison.
That decision is immediately upended when they realize that Atwater's father witnessed a crucial interaction prior to a shooting, and they must interrogate him for more information, reuniting the estranged pair. Lew returns in "The Bleed Valve" when the Intelligence Unit needs his help once again while investigating the shooting death of an 11-year-old boy. Though their relationship is still clearly strained, the two seem to be making steps towards reconciliation by the end of the episode.
"I think Atwater and his dad become the heroes toward the end, but they start off as stray humans that are miscommunicating," Hawkins told NBC Insider. "I know a lot of father and son relationships are different, you know what I mean? They are different, but they are real to everybody individually. So I just wanted this to feel real to us, and to Atwater, and hopefully other families of fathers and sons can relate and learn from what we go through."
This story was originally published on April 12, 2023. It was updated May 9, 2023.