The Fuhrman tapes are 13 hours of taped interviews given by Los Angeles police officer Mark Fuhrman to writer Laura McKinny between 1985 and 1994. The tapes include many racist slurs and remarks made by Fuhrman, including forty-one uses of the word "nigger," as well as descriptions of police brutality perpetrated on black suspects. Portions of the tapes were admitted into evidence during the O. J. Simpson murder case.
Creation of tapes
Screenwriter Laura McKinny was interested in writing a screenplay and a novel about the experience of women police officers. After learning that Fuhrman was a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer and had strong views about the employment of women as LAPD officers, McKinny engaged Fuhrman as a consultant to provide background information about the reality of the experiences of LAPD officers and to serve as a technical advisor in the development of a screenplay. Furhman and McKinney began meeting for taped interviews in February 1985 and continued meeting until 1994.
In one 1985 recording, Fuhrman gave a taped interview to Laura Hart McKinny, a writer working on a screenplay about female police officers. In another interview, he talked about blacks and police brutality and was quoted as saying, "Yeah we work with niggers and gangs. You can take one of these niggers, drag 'em into the alley and beat the shit out of them and kick them. You can see them twitch. It really relieves your tension." He went on to say "we had them begging that they'd never be gang members again, begging us." He said that he would tell them, "You do what you're told, understand, nigger?"
Role in O. J. Simpson murder trial
The tapes, as well as Fuhrman himself, became a central figure in the O. J. Simpson trial. Fuhrman was the officer who found both gloves, much of the blood drops in the dark and who entered Simpson's estate grounds without a search warrant due to exigent circumstances. Simpson's defense team argued that Fuhrman planted the glove on Simpson's estate following the murder. To bolster their case, excerpts of the tapes were admitted as evidence in the 1995 murder trial against Simpson. Outside the presence of the jury, Fuhrman was questioned by the defense team, invoking his 5th Amendment right on all questions, including the question, "Did you plant or manufacture any evidence in this case?"
Earlier in the trial, Fuhrman testified that he had never used the word "nigger", which proved later to be perjured testimony with the admission of the tapes. His recorded words as well as his denial was a major blow to the prosecution's case.
Fuhrman was charged with perjury for his testimony at the trial. He pleaded no contest.
The Los Angeles Police Department conducted an investigation to determine the validity of Fuhrman's claims on the tapes. The LAPD announced that Fuhrman exaggerated many of the acts of racially motivated brutality described on the recordings. Of the 29 incidents McKinny's tapes and transcripts, 17 could not be connected to known events. Investigators did link 12 accounts to known events, but their investigation was inconclusive, aside from the use of racial epithets and sexist attitudes toward female officers, which was substantiated. Just about everything Fuhrman told McKinny, which could be connected to an actual event, was bigger, bloodier and more violent than the facts, the report concluded. In one instance, Fuhrman reported that a suspect was beaten to death and three others were hospitalized with broken bones. While this was connected to a known event, only one suspect was treated for minor injuries caused by another officer.
- Linder, Douglas O. "Testimony of documentary film producer Laura Hart McKinney in the OJ Simpson Trial". Famous Trials. University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
- Mark Fuhrman project page at University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law. Accessed January 8, 2008.
- Simon, Stephanie (September 7, 1995). "Fuhrman Invokes 5th Amendment, Refuses to Testify : Simpson case: Ex-detective is asked three questions, including whether he planted evidence. Jurors aren't present, but defense will seek to have them informed of the action.". Los Angeles Times.
- Purdum, Todd S. (May 6, 1997). "Los Angeles Police Report says Fuhrman overstated brutal exploits". The New York Times.
- Abrahamson, Alan (October 3, 1996). "Fuhrman enters plea of no contest to perjury". Los Angeles Times.