Jim Peasha doesn’t remember the Los Angeles Police Department the way embattled former detective Mark Fuhrman described it to a screenplay writer.
In the recorded interviews, played at the O.J. Simpson trial this week, Fuhrman told about life as an L.A. cop. He used racial slurs, expletives and talked of beating suspects.
“I have never heard or witnessed anybody talk like that or do any of those things,” said Peasha, who worked for the LAPD for 21 years, starting in 1966. Peasha is now a drug education officer for Bonner County.
“We may have bent the rules a few times, but we never did any of the stuff he was talking about. I think he’s making this stuff up. But even if it is made-up garbage, people still believe it.”
A handful of retired L.A. cops now living in Idaho’s Panhandle, Fuhrman’s new home, were quick to say the former detective lied about not using racial epithets. Still, they aren’t ready to condemn him as a racist or rogue.
“I’m not one to deny there are bad apples in the barrel, but I don’t think Mark Fuhrman is a bad apple, and I don’t think he’s a racist,” says Floyd Flowers.
Flowers, 65, worked 18 years as a police officer south of Los Angeles. He now lives in Coeur d’Alene.
Flowers said Fuhrman got caught off guard when asked if he ever used racial slurs in the last 10 years.
“I think he probably wished he’d answered differently now. I don’t think any police officer would say he hasn’t used the ‘n’ word, whether for real or kidding. He just used damn poor judgment.”
Flowers believes many of Fuhrman’s comments were exaggerations and said the behavior he described wouldn’t be tolerated on any police force.
“I think he was bragging, trying to look 10 feet tall, but I’m not going to judge him. I want to hear what he has to say.”
Fuhrman’s father, Ralph, talked to a reporter Wednesday and said his son was likely trying to impress the screenplay writer to earn $10,000.
“This stuff Mark spouted off about I imagine was to impress that woman doing that research. If you met Mark right now, you’d think he was a great guy,” Ralph Fuhrman said.
Sandpoint Mayor Ron Chaney does think Fuhrman is a great guy and wonderful storyteller. Chaney befriended Fuhrman after he moved to Sandpoint and defended him on national television this week.
The mayor’s comments prompted a barrage of calls to his office Wednesday. One woman left this message for Chaney: “Keep your big mouth shut.”
John Tanner, who worked 21 years in the LAPD before moving to Coeur d’Alene, also called the mayor. He offered his services to protect Chaney or Fuhrman’s family.
“I commend the mayor for having the fortitude not to jump on the bandwagon condemning Mark Fuhrman,” Tanner said,adding that the public still doesn’t know if the Fuhrman tapes are fact or fiction.
“What sickens me is even if he did use the ‘n’ word, what’s that got to do with two people who were brutally slaughtered,” Tanner said. “Why is the focus on this guy?”
, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Kevin Keating Staff writer The Associated Press contributed to this report.