O.J. Simpson is imprisoned and broke and universally accepted as a multi-murderer. That’s likely about the same condition he’d be in if he’d been convicted of killing Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. So a case can be made that, in the end, he got away with nothing.
But anybody looking for tragic fallout from the Trial of the Century need look no further than Mark Fuhrman’s celebrity. Thanks to the acquittal, a racist, crooked detective became America’s most popular cop.
And he’s a featured player in ESPN’s multi-episode documentary on the Simpson trial. This week’s installment finds Fuhrman color commentating over footage of the Rodney King beating. Fuhrman gets wistful for days when torture was standard operating procedure for the boys in blue.
“This is what happens when you take away a tool that would have ended this in 10 seconds: Choke hold,” Fuhrman tells the filmmakers.
The prosecution lost in part because he was a bad cop, but he won. If he was competent and not racist, he’d be a footnote. Instead he’s a household name and media personality.
This was a guy introduced to America as a cop who dropped racial slurs casually, boasted of beating minority suspects, railed against “patty cake, patty cake” interrogations in favor of brutality, and pleaded the fifth when asked if he planted evidence while working cases other than Simpson’s.
He seemed eager to enhance the racist bona fides revealed during his testimony by moving shortly after the trial to Northern Idaho, a place most folks at the time only knew as a haven for white supremacists such as Randall Weaver of Ruby Ridge infamy.
Yet the public backlash to Simpson’s acquittal was such that Fuhrman’s most heinous attributes became selling points. Fox News made him the network’s resident law enforcement expert—he was on the Kelly File as recently as two weeks ago—and he has enjoyed a career as a prolific crime writer, authoring at least seven books.
And now we have to hear him explain why Rodney King needed to be beaten. So forget the verdict for a second. Want a real reason to feel bad about the Simpson trial? He’s it.