October 4, 1995 in City

Verdict Disappoints Former L.A. Cops Ex-Officers Speak Out, But Fuhrman Eludes Media

Kevin Keating And Rich Roesler S Staff writer

Television satellite trucks, cameras and a pack of journalists camped out Tuesday by Mark Fuhrman’s front door.

But the former Los Angeles police detective was nowhere to be found in Sandpoint. Newspapers, sheets and shades covered the home’s windows.

Fuhrman and his family, anticipating the verdict and the crush of media, apparently left town.

Some of Fuhrman’s former colleagues, however, shook their heads at Tuesday’s verdict, saying more had evaporated than just Fuhrman.

Justice, they said, was nowhere to be found.

“I think the justice system has proved itself to be impotent,” said Jeff Thomas, a lieutenant with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department, and a former Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy. “They told everyone today that we’re afraid to be a society of laws.”

Thomas is one of more than 100 former California police officers, retired or working locally, who live in the Idaho Panhandle.

Thomas said he thinks jurors were concerned about protests if they voted to convict Simpson. He cited the case of Reginald Denny, a trucker beaten by thugs during Los Angeles rioting in 1992. Despite news footage of the attack, three of the four men charged in the crime were convicted of minor offenses and sentenced to probation. Only one was sentenced to prison.

“Los Angeles bases its justice system on fear,” said Thomas. “You’re not going to get 12 people who are going to take responsibility for creating a riot.”

Priest River police Sgt. LeRoy Rasmussen said he was disappointed.

“They’re in bad shape down there, they really are,” said the 21-year veteran Los Angeles Police Department officer.

Rasmussen said he started out believing Simpson was innocent, but was swayed by the DNA evidence.

“There weren’t fingerprints, but there were bloodprints,” he said. “I’m just convinced he was guilty.”

Rasmussen said he’s sure racial factors played into the jury’s decision.

“It had to do something,” he said. “For 12 people to overlook so much evidence, there had to be some reason.”

Several other former Los Angeles officers didn’t want to comment Tuesday.

In Sandpoint, crews hunting Fuhr man came from ABC, the tabloid show Extra, along with reporters from an L.A. TV station and Spokane. One tabloid show, Inside Edition, even tried to make a deal to film Fuhrman watching the verdict in his home. It didn’t happen.

Another TV crew set up inside the Whistle Stop Cafe, hoping to catch locals watching the verdict. No one would take the seats in front of the camera, even after the crew offered to buy their breakfast.

“I’d rather not be here today,” said one waitress tired of being quizzed by reporters.

Besides the media, only the curious were driving by and taking pictures of Fuhrman’s empty house.

“Get a life. Don’t you have anything better to do,” one passer-by hollered as he drove past the journalists.

“I would like to see him come out but I don’t blame him if he’s left,” said Glenna Kallsen. In town from Colorado visiting relatives, she and her husband snapped pictures of Fuhrman’s house for a souvenir.

Even the normally chatty mayor, Ron Chaney, wasn’t talking Tuesday. He drove by Fuhrman’s house several times. He stopped once to kick reporters off the sidewalk and tell them to stay away from the house.

Chaney, whose wife sold Fuhrman his home, befriended the former detective and has often defended him, saying the Mark Fuhrman he knows is not a racist.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo

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