O J defence exploits `racist police' testimony

FROM PHIL REEVES

in Los Angeles

The O J Simpson trial is entering what promises to be a crucial phase: the cross-examination of Mark Fuhrman, a police detective who is the focus of claims that the case is about the same brand of official racism that produced the Los Angeles riots.

For months, defence lawyers have been brandishing a fattening file of evidence alleging that the detective is racist and may have tried to frame the former football star in the stabbing murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman, a 25-year-old waiter.

Few legal experts dispute that the showdown could play a critical role in the outcome of the case. It touches on one of the nation's most volatile fault lines: the conflicting views of blacks, many of whom believe police will go to great lengths to incriminate them, and whites, who believe the police's dangerous fight against crime is being hindered by sniping critics.

When the 43-year-old detective first stepped into the limelight last year to testify in a preliminary hearing, he looked like an ideal prosecution witness - clean-cut and efficient. Watched by millions of television viewers, he calmly described how he lead the investigation to Simpson's mansion on 13 June, where he discovered a spot of blood on his Bronco vehicle and a bloody glove in the grounds that matched one found at the murder scene.

Since then, the defence has found a rich seam of mud. A 31-year-old estate agent, Kathleen Bell, has alleged that he once told her that he disapproved of inter-racial relationships and would like to "take all the niggers, put them together in a big group and burn them."

Papers have emerged showing that between 1984-86, Mr Fuhrman, an ex-US Marine Corps machine gunner who served in Vietnam, was admonished over what an official noted as "very strong views regarding women and minorities in police work". Around the same time, he and other officers were charged with sexually harassing a black female colleague.

Allegations have surfaced that the detective belonged to a group within the Los Angeles police called "Men Against Women" and, more ominously, was the ringleader of WASP, White Anglo Saxon Policemen.

Critics of the police say Mr Fuhrman's record bears all too many similarities to those of other members of the Los Angeles Police Department, whose racism, brutality and corruption played a leading role in the cocktail of factors which ignited the city's 1992 riots. It is unclear how much of the evidence will be admitted in court; Judge Lance Ito has already banned the production of a newspaper cartoon on the detective's desk which purportedly includes a swastika. But Mr Simpson's "Dream Team" of lawyers (or "Scheme Team", as some LA wits now call them) hope to produce enough to sway a jury which contains eight blacks.

One of the issues that Mr Simpson's lawyers hope to obscure is the fact that, no matter how racist Mr Fuhrman may or may not be, a police frame-up would still have required an extraordinarily elaborate conspiracy. Not only would Mr Fuhrman have moved a bloody glove from the murder scene (despite the presence of other officers) and planted it in Mr Simpson's grounds, he would also have to have smeared it with some of the celebrity's blood.

But, as Mr Simpson's lawyers have been quick to observe, they do not have to prove anything. All they need to do is convince one juror that there are grounds for reasonable doubt.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker