The Fuhrman Tapes Threaten to Tear The People v. O.J. Simpson Apart

The prosecution won't be able to recover from this mess

By Lauren Piester Mar 30, 2016 3:10 AMTags
The People v. O.J. Simpson, American Crime StoryFX

Things are not looking good for the prosecution in the O.J. Simpson case. 

That's a weird sentence in 2016, but if we pretend we don't know how this all ends, tonight's People v. O.J. Simpson, "Manna from Heaven," might have clued us in. 

As Ron Goldman's poor father said at one point, this is now a case about police officer Mark Fuhrman, his terrible opinions, and his habit of using terrible slurs, instead of a case whose main goal was once to bring justice to murder victims. 

After the defense was tipped off to the existence of tapes in which Fuhrman repeatedly uses the N-word, both sides were thrown into a tailspin. 

Cochran got Judge Ito to sign a subpoena for the tapes, which were recorded by a woman who was writing a screenplay about the LAPD. Since the tapes were in her possession in North Carolina, that's where Cochran and Bailey had to go, and that's where Cochran was faced with the harsh realities of the deep south. The judge had no interest in his theatrics, so Bailey had to step in. 

Those tapes turned out to be pretty darn damning, especially given the fact that Fuhrman was a main witness for the prosecution. They featured Fuhrman giving detailed descriptions of planting evidence to frame black people, beating up black citizens, and his hatred of women, but there was one tape in particular that was the real problem, since it featured Fuhrman insulting the police captain who just happened to be Ito's wife.  

This was a problem for multiple reasons. First of all, it made Ito extremely biased if the tapes were used as evidence against Fuhrman, but it also meant that Ito's wife lied about any connection to Fuhrman during the judge selection. 

So, do they force Ito to step down and call a mistrial, which means everybody has to start all over again, or do they leave the tapes out of evidence? The defense knows they're done if a mistrial is called, so obviously they want the tapes heard. Cochran tried everything in his power to get them released publicly, including attempting to start an actual riot. 

Darden, meanwhile, seemed to really lose it. Marcia had to come to his defense multiple times, but even their partnership started to suffer as he got rightfully upset over Johnnie's use of race. 

In the end, Ito simply didn't allow the use of the majority of the tapes, except for a couple of sentences that proved Fuhrman's use of the N-word. 

That, however, became irrelevant once Fuhrman took the stand again in a chilling and infuriating sequence. He took the fifth amendment to all of Cochran's questions...including the last and most important one: "Did you plant or manufacture any evidence in this case?" 

Yep. The prosecution is screwed. Game over. 

At least there was one piece of good news: Marcia got full custody of her kids in her divorce, so at least there's that. 

The finale of The People v. O.J. Simpson airs next Tuesday at 10 p.m. on FX.