‘Sleeping Dog’ Ending, Explained: Who Killed Judge Herres? How Does Netflix Series End?


The German crime thriller series on Netflix, Sleeping Dog, is an intriguing watch about the corrupt tendencies that are possible to think of with regards to police and prosecution. The plot is centered around an ex-police detective, Mike Atlas, who starts to recover his lost memory and suspects that a murder case he solved might have been manipulated by someone else. While Sleeping Dog focuses more on human depth through its many characters, the stress on fast-paced action is completely missing here, and it would be a more enjoyable watch for those into slow thrillers.

Spoilers Alert

‘Sleeping Dog’ Plot Summary: What Is The Series About?

Sleeping Dog begins inside a prison, where one of the inmates, named Mussa Basher, is approached by a group of rowdy inmates. Although it seems like the men would attack Mussa, they actually manage to give a small knife to the man, and as can be expected, Mussa is found dead inside his cell the next day. The young man, who had been found guilty of murdering a renowned judge named Herres, had seemingly committed suicide after pleading innocence for months. Mussa’s claims did not stand in court because of the fact that his hair was found right beside Judge Herres’ car and also because the gun that was seemingly used in the murder was found in Mussa’s car. These, along with Mussa’s belonging to a violent-minded family, with his brother Abou Basher a known miscreant, got the young man in jail. The on-call crime squad KDD had been instrumental in this investigation, and our protagonist, Mike Atlas, was the one to have found the incriminating evidence.

We are next introduced to the strange life of Mike Atlas, for despite being a beloved police detective, the man had suddenly stopped reporting to work some months ago, and he had even left his house, abandoning his wife and teenage daughter behind. Mike was now living the life of a homeless man following a mental breakdown from apparent PTSD, as he had witnessed a devastating terrorist attack only a few days before his breakdown. Having spent the last few months exactly like a homeless person, often drinking and taking drugs, Mike does not expect to have any connection with his past life anymore. However, his past does catch up when Abou Basher tracks him down and beats him up, even burning his trailer down as punishment for the death of his brother. But much to his own surprise, Mike does not remember what exactly he had done or why he is being held responsible, as it becomes clear that the man has lost his memory as well.

On the other side, a young woman named Jule Andergast starts her profession as a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office. Despite being the daughter of a renowned late prosecutor, Jule finds her new professional life extremely difficult and hurtful, mostly because of the DA Corinna Steck’s stern and condescending behavior. As Jule is given the responsibility of investigating the suicide of Mussa Basher, the young woman realizes that there was something awry about the death and also the murder of Judge Herres. Trying to track down an important lead in both cases, a young man named Idris Kouri, Jule starts her investigation, while Mike also does the same to find out what exactly he had done in the past.

How Is Idris Kouri Linked To The Cases?

The first bit of mystery for the viewers and also for Jule Andergast is about the exact role that Idris Kouri played in the case. Jule goes through the prison security camera tapes and sees that Idris had come to visit Mussa only a couple of days before the latter’s death. Mussa looked very happy and content to see Idris too, and the two were seemingly on good terms with each other. However, contradictory to this was the fact that Idris Kouri was supposed to be present at Mussa’s court trial, as he could apparently provide an alibi for the man, but had ultimately fled the country before doing so. Without any alibi, Mussa was found guilty by the court and would therefore be angry at Idris for having skipped on him. Therefore, Jule’s first matter of concern was how the two men were still on such good terms that Idris was meeting Mussa in jail, and the latter was happy about it.

The answer to this mystery is essentially reached through a series of wounds that Mussa had made on his chest with the same knife that he had used to slit his wrist. Although the police initially saw these marks on the chest simply as wounds, Jule realized that they were actually a carving of some Arabic word that Mussa had made on his body. Going through the security tapes again, Jule now also realized that Idris had a similar Arabic text tattooed on his chest, and this made the connection between the two men all the more mysterious. Finally, when going to investigate a restaurant run by Idris’ family, Jule learns of the real secret.

Idris Kouri was actually the lover of Mussa Basher, and the two had been in a secret relationship for a long time. Although their love for each other was honest and genuine, Mussa and Idris could tell anyone about it because homosexuality is prohibited in their religion and culture. As it happened, the night Judge Herres had been murdered, Mussa spent the whole time with Idris at his house, making love. This was why Idris could easily provide an alibi for Mussa and save his lover from legal trouble. However, Idris Kouri had been threatened by someone in the police force to not appear in court and provide this alibi. The police officer threatened to tell both families about their homosexual relationship if Idris appeared in court; therefore, the young man fled the country. Idris then returned to Germany and visited his lover in prison, where he promised to help him out, and the two lovers had then gotten each other’s names tattooed on their chests. While Mussa could not literally get a tattoo done, he had carved out Idris’ name in Arabic on his chest with the knife.

With Jule looking for Idris Kouri at the same time as Mike Atlas, both to find out why exactly he had not appeared in court to provide Mussa’s alibi, the heat is turned on for Idris. The young man is finally found dead in a children’s park, with a bullet piercing his head in the same manner as Judge Herres. Similar to that case too, the supposed perpetrator left their DNA right at the crime scene, which is quickly used as evidence. In the case of the murder of Judge Herres, Mussa’s hair was found at the crime scene, and now, stubs of cigarettes smoked by Abou Basher are found near Idris’ dead body. It was very well known that Abou Basher hated Idris and his family because he had not appeared in court to save his brother. Abou had openly threatened Idris’ father multiple times, and now he is arrested for the crime.

What Does Private Investigator Joachim Jurgens Reveal About Judge Herres’ Murder?

The character of Joachim Jurgens, a private investigator who had also visited Mussa Basher in prison only the day before he killed himself, is rather interesting because of what he knows about the past. Jurgens gets to know from the newspaper that it was Mike Atlas who had found the incriminating evidence against Mussa and tries to meet him with some information. This does not go very smoothly for either of the sides, but then Jurgens reveals what he has known to Jule.

Some time back, Joachim Jurgens had been hired by a woman who introduced herself as Judge Herres’ wife to secretly investigate the judge. The woman was suspicious that her husband was having an affair with someone else, and for this reason, she hired Jurgens. The PI carried out the job, minutely following and photographing every movement of Judge Herres, but could not find him to be associated with any other woman in any romantic or sexual manner. Jurgens ended his investigation and handed over whatever he had found to Judge Herres’ wife, clearly stating that her husband did not have any affair. The PI then learned about the judge’s murder and also believed that Mussa Basher could have done it like the police were claiming. However, his suspicions rose sometime later when he suddenly found out that the woman who had posed as Herres’ wife was actually a prostitute and not the actual wife of the judge.

This, along with the fact that Judge Herres was about to be promoted to the appeals court right before he was killed, made Jurgens suspect that the real truth was being hidden. Meeting with Mussa in prison, Jurgens learned about how the man had an alibi and was now suspicious that someone from higher authority was involved. In reality, a professional competitor of Herres had hired Jurgens, through the prostitute posing to be his wife, to find some scandalous dirt on Judge Herres. If something like this could be found, then the man would not receive the promotion, and his professional competitor would automatically get the promotion. However, nothing of this sort could be found on Herres, and neither this competitor nor the PI was involved in the judge’s murder.

Nonetheless, the fact that Jurgens knew so much about the secret plan that was in the works against Judge Herres and that he had taken photographs of the judge made the PI the next target for the real perpetrator who had killed Judge Herres. Joachim Jurgens is murdered right in front of Jule, and his body and car go missing for multiple days before finally being found in a lake. It becomes very clear that one particular individual or group, who had been involved in all of the crimes, was now trying to hide their identity and killing people, first Idris and now Jurgens, to keep their crimes a secret.

Who Actually Killed Judge Herres?

By the time the real truth comes out towards the end of Sleeping Dog, multiple perpetrators are found guilty in the entire matter. As Mike Atlas finally connects the pieces and gets his memory back, he realizes that the entire matter was caused by certain actions of his. Stressed by the relentless crime and gore that he had to witness while working as a police detective, Mike was nearing a mental breakdown and had told his best friend, Luka Zaric, about this. Luka had then suggested a nerve-soothing drug to Mike, and the latter had gotten addicted to it within a short time. Mike would always be under the influence of the pills, even while on duty, and his two close friends and colleagues, Luka and Roland Sokowski, knew about this.

On the night when the terrorist attack took place, Mike, Luka, and Roland drove towards the place after hearing of it, even though they were off-duty at the time. Mike had taken the drug but was given the responsibility of driving their car, and in a drugged state, he ran into and killed a homeless man known as Polyphemus on the road. Unwilling to report the accident to the authorities and risk their reputation and freedom, the three men hid the dead body in the trunk of their car and then dumped it at the site of the terrorist attack, making it look like Polyphemus had been killed in the terrorist attack and not in some road accident. But unbeknownst to them, another homeless man had witnessed the road accident, and he used to regularly visit an organization called the Benedictus Homeless Charity to receive food and other amenities. Judge Herres was an active member of the Benedictus charity, and once he found out about this accident, he was very determined to find the perpetrators who had so casually killed a homeless man and fled the scene.

This personal investigation that Judge Herres had been doing ultimately got him killed, for it was actually Roland Sokowski who shot and killed the judge. The evidence, Mussa’s hair, had indeed been falsely planted by Sokowski to make it seem like the criminally inclined Basher gang was involved in the murder. It was the stress and guilt resulting from this series of incidents, as well as the effects of the drugs, that led to Mike’s mental breakdown and memory loss. The District Attorney, Corinna Steck, was racially prejudiced against the Bashers, and she did not mind going to any extent to bring an end to such a criminal gang. Steck supported Zaric’s decision, and it seems like the two actually worked together in the matter, hand in hand. Mussa was successfully sent off to prison, but his suicide had again led Mike and Jule to start investigations into the case. Therefore, it was now Sokowski who went around and murdered the lead witnesses—first Idris Kouri and then Joachim Jurgens—so that the crimes of him and his team could never be found out. In turn, the DNA evidence of Abou Basher was planted at the crime scene, and he was arrested and sent to prison. This not only kept Sokowski and Zaric’s reputations safe, but it also ensured what Corinna Steck always wanted—to bring an end to the Basher family.

‘Sleeping Dog’ Ending Explained: What Happens To Mike, Jule, Luka, And Steck?

When the grand mystery and the police cover-up are finally solved, Mike Atlas is once again taken over by guilt for his past actions, but the man does not let bitterness grow over him this time. Mike decides to reunite with his family while also voluntarily admitting to his crime of killing Polyphemus in the car accident. He receives probation in the court case and does community service with homeless people at the Benedictus charity to find some redemption and salvation from what he had done earlier. Mike and his family also conduct a funeral service for Polyphemus at the end of Sleeping Dog.

Jule had gotten romantically involved with LKA homicide detective Tom Schlefski, who was also secretly investigating Corinna Steck and her over-reliance on the KDD squad. Unfortunately, Schlefski was killed by Sokowski because he was close to uncovering the horrible malpractices that were committed by the police and prosecution authorities. At the end of Sleeping Dog, Jule decides to leave her job at the DA’s office and hands over her keycard to Steck.

With Roland Sokowski found guilty of committing all the murders and sent to prison, there is enough administrative and media pressure on Corinna Steck. Although the woman claims Sokowski to have been one single cop who had gone rogue, she is now being suspected of having put pressure on the police force to pin crimes on criminal gangs even when they were not involved. On the other side, Luka Zaric had also voluntarily admitted to his crimes and had resigned from the police profession after receiving probation. In the end, Zaric and Steck are seen together in the man’s boat as they sail away together, suggesting that the two broken characters might stick with each other even if the law were to soon come their way.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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