Simpson Case Star Witness Faces Withering Scrutiny of Past With AM-OutFront-Coroner’s
Simpson Case Star Witness Faces Withering Scrutiny of Past With AM-OutFront-Coroner’s Mistakes, Bjt; AM-Simpson-Slayings
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ He’s been called a racist, a misogynist, a pathological liar, unstable and violent. He’s also been called″the hunkiest new star of the Los Angeles Police Department.″
Meet Detective Mark Fuhrman, the officer who found the bloody glove outside O.J. Simpson’s mansion.
During Simpson’s preliminary hearing, he was composed, articulate and confident as he described how his heart pounded June 13 at the discovery of the glove similar to one found by the bodies of Simpson’s ex-wife and her friend.
The New York Post called him ″the hunkiest new star of the Los Angeles Police Department.″
Fuhrman’s public image has come a long way in the two weeks since his testimony.
Members of Simpson’s legal team have said they might argue Fuhrman planted the glove on Simpson’s estate. Lead defense lawyer Robert Shapiro says his team is scrutinizing a lawsuit Fuhrman filed against the city in 1983 seeking a disability pension.
Documents from the lawsuit show Fuhrman told psychiatrists that working in black and Hispanic neighborhoods made him a mentally unstable ″wild man″ who beat and harassed people for a thrill. Psychiatrists said Fuhrman told them he had to be ″violent just to exist″ and once broke the elbows and knees of a man who spit on him.
Fuhrman lost the lawsuit after several psychiatrists claimed he made up a mental disorder so he could retire to a cabin in the woods, become an artist and receive a disability pension.
Whether or not Fuhrman was lying, the picture isn’t pretty.
Fuhrman can’t defend himself - though he did deny planting the glove - because the police department has ordered employees not to discuss the Simpson case.
Performance evaluations from 1976 to 1981, which were included in Fuhrman’s 1983 lawsuit, show superiors described the officer as strong-minded but extremely competent, dedicated and thorough.
Detectives expressed frustration over the portrayal of their friend, but said bad press comes with the territory.
″That’s the unfortunate part about being a policeman,″ said one colleague who spoke on condition of anonymity. ″The role of the attorneys is to go after the witnesses, and all police officers know that.
″Mark is a strong officer, his integrity is intact and he will do just fine.″
According to the documents, Fuhrman told a psychiatrist that he left the Marines in 1975 and joined the Police Department because he ″got tired of having a bunch of Mexicans and niggers that should be in prison telling (him) they weren’t going to do something.″
″If you only knew what it feels like when some guy’s doin’ something, acting cool, thinking no one sees him, and you come up and put a shotgun to his head,″ Fuhrman told Dr. Ronald Koegler. The psychiatrist said Fuhrman laughed.
A source told The Associated Press that Fuhrman also was the leader of a group of officers called Men Against Women. Police Lt. John Dunkin confirmed that internal investigations had targeted a group by that name based in the West Los Angeles station, where Fuhrman works. Dunkin declined to say whether Fuhrman was involved.
A source close to the Simpson defense, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the AP that the group is ″basically a white Aryan brotherhood, fraternal police organization that is basically anti-females.″
Private investigator Zvonko Pavelic, a former police officer doing research for the defense, claims to have turned up documents that lawyers would use in court to discredit Fuhrman.
″The one common denominator is he is well-perceived to be a racist and a pathological liar,″ Pavelic said.
The civil rights group Police Watch checked its files at the request of the AP and found three complaints filed against Fuhrman.
In 1987, a black man claimed Fuhrman and another officer attacked him; in 1990, a black robbery suspect said Fuhrman made harassing phone calls to his wife and daughter; and in 1988, a man claimed Fuhrman harassed him because he was handing out religious literature.
Shapiro, the defense lawyer, said ″credibility of witnesses″ will be an issue at trial.
But legal experts said it was unclear whether they could use any of the information against Fuhrman at the trial.
″I do imagine that the court will allow questions about bias, but as to any specifics of incidents over 15 years ago, I think the judge may very well exercise his discretion to keep out specifics,″ said Loyola law professor Laurie Levenson.