Lee Butters is a cop who represents the next generation of the LAPD, albeit, cops who have psychology degrees, etc. He is also a wacko in his own right, and gets very excited when events occur while on duty.
He's revealed that the reason he joined the field of law enforcement is because his whole life, he hated crime. Thinking of 150,000 reasons why, indicating that that's how many bullets were being shot in his neighborhood when he was a kid. Unable to go outside and play or even go near a window, he had to do everything he could do on the floor, and never knew how to walk until he reached age 10. Every time when going out and handling a crime, he's not thinking about the crime, but the floor he was on his whole life during his childhood.
Although Murtaugh thinks that Butters is gay, it is revealed that Butters has secretly been married to Murtaugh's daughter, Rianne, and only his wife, Trish, Riggs and Lorna know this.
Butters, growing up in a rough neighborhood as a child, hates crime so much, it indicates that that's why he joined the field of law enforcement. He takes the job as police officer seriously enough the way most cops would. He can seen as taking optimism on a whole new level, as he's got a psychology degree, which is why he's one cop who represents the generation of the LAPD, albeit, cops with psychology degrees., etc.
As much as he takes being a police officer serious enough, he takes being a family man even more seriously, being married to Rianne Murtaugh, Roger's daughter, who he met a year before and fell in love with and married. He and Rianne are excited in having their first baby together.
Lee Butters is first shown after Team Riggs/Murtaugh foil a raid on a ship carrying Chinese slaves. He is happy to see them both and even shows his gratitude by telling someone to give Roger Murtaugh a towel (even though he didn't need it). Butters inspects a dead Chinese body and becomes so enraged, he thinks people are crazy for killing an innocent being and bringing dead bodies to America. Then reporters start looming in and Butters shouts at them to leave the premises.
Butters is then shown in the police station talking to Murtaugh. Murtaugh doesn't seem all too pleased to be working with him because he doesn't feel like he was meant to be with him. Butters joins the duo as they go pay a visit to Uncle Benny Chan in Chinatown, Los Angeles to interrogate him about the Chinese slaves on the boat from the other day. But as they are heading down the road, they notice a red GMC SUV, belonging to Leo Getz, following them.
The duo pull over as Butters observes the ordeal happening with the two until Leo offends Butters by calling him a 'perp' in the backseat. Butters himself then gets upset with Leo, revealing to him he is a cop and shows him his gun and badge, scaring Leo. The two would continue to argue with each other until a police officer arrives in his motorcycle. When Riggs lies telling the officer they don't know Leo, Butters plays along and uses his hand gestures to show him he has been drinking and they speed off happily.
Butters arrives at Uncle Benny's Restaurant and follows the duo into Uncle Benny's office. After they leave, they see the captain of the ship the slaves were on and go after him. Although he escapes, the captain is ambushed by Wah Sing Ku, who fights with him only to be gained advantage of and strangled by Ku with a ligature. Butters informs Riggs and Murtaugh this as it was reported at the coroner's office.
Later at the police station, Butters has a conversation with Leo about how cellphones charge with high taxes every minute.
After the attack at Murtaugh's house with the Hongs being kidnapped, Leo was able to track Uncle Benny at a dental office. Butters, Riggs, and Murtaugh use Leo for a distraction, while they interrogate Benny using laughing gas to extract the truth from him about where the Hongs were taken to. During the interrogation, Riggs accidentally revealed to Murtaugh that Butters was his son-in-law as he married Rianne, and she was having his baby.
Soon after the Triad gang made their counterfeit money for the release of the 4 Fathers, Ku strangled Benny for revealing their plan to Butters, Riggs, and Murtaugh, Hong to get Hong's uncle to cooperate with him, and then Hong's uncle after the counterfeiting was completed to keep him from telling the cops what went on there. After trying to figure out what Benny was trying to tell them at the dental office about the 4 Fathers, Detective Ng, who is familiar with Chinese cultures, tells them that the 4 Fathers were the ones in charge of the Triads.
Later thereafter, they all head out to the warehouse pier, where the exchange of the 4 Fathers' release would be taking place. However, before the exchange could be completed, they inform the general and his men that the money the Triad gang was going to give them was counterfeit, with some wet ink from the paper he showed them as proof. As a result, a vicious gunfight ensues between the general and his men and the Triads. Butters jumps behind Murtaugh, taking a bullet for him, but was only injured in the process. Butters says it was the first time he was ever shot. Ng takes care of him, presumably taking him to the hospital at Murtaugh's request, after Murtaugh was willing to accept him as his son-in-law. Butters is later seen at the hospital to see his and Rianne's baby, and have a picture with all the others there, including Captain Murphy.
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- Lee Butters may have inspired the character of James Carter (played by Chris Tucker) from Rush Hour, which was released the same year as Lethal Weapon 4.