Jesse Carr (Jesse Leinbach), an unarmed Caucasian teenager, is shot in a small North Carolina town by Deputy Joshua Beck (Tristan Wilds), the only African-American in the local sheriff's office. Governor Patricia Eamons (Helen Hunt) contacts the Department of Justice (DOJ) to determine if the shooting was lawful. Two African-American DOJ officials receive the assignment - veteran investigator Ashe Akino (Sanaa Lathan), who was previously cleared of shooting an unarmed individual and struggles to control her temper, and prosecutor Preston Terry (Stephan James), a young and confident attorney looking to make a name for himself. As they study the shooting, Ashe and Preston soon learn about the death of African-American teenager Joey Campbell (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), which has seemingly gone ignored by the local police, while meeting the following individuals:
- Lieutenant Breeland (Stephen Moyer), a 20-year veteran of the sheriff's office;
- Sheriff Daniel Platt (Will Patton), the town's top lawman;
- Janae James (Aisha Hinds), a local pastor;
- Shameeka Campbell (Dewanda Wise), Joey's mother;
- Kerry Beck (Clare Hope Ashitey), Joshua's wife;
- Sarah Ellis (Conor Leslie), the aide of the governor;
- Arlen Cox (Richard Dreyfuss), a wealthy developer;
- Alicia Carr (Jill Hennessy), Jesse's mother; and
- Deputy Caleb Brooks (Beau Knapp), Joshua's best friend in the sheriff's office.
As the two continue their work, they begin to inquire on whether the North Carolina state government ordered the coverup and news blackout of the prior shooting...
Shots Fired contains examples of:
- Driving Question: Two actually...
- Did Deputy Beck shoot and kill the unarmed white college student under lawful circumstances?
- Did the state of North Carolina cover up the shooting of an black teenager?
- Government Conspiracy: The two DOJ investigators suspect that the reason why the black teen's death made little news is because someone was powerful to call the shots in covering the story up.
- Oh, Crap!:
- At the start of "Hour One: Pilot", Deputy Beck was in shock that he actually shot the unarmed college student.
- When the investigators in "Hour Two: Betrayal of Trust" find out that someone compromised the investigation by leaking a video, putting Beck in a bad position.
- Persecution Flip: Examined from every angle, as everyone is well aware of the anomalous nature of the shooting in the middle of the multitudes of white cops shooting unarmed black people.