Mark Fuhrman Biography

Law Enforcement, Writer(1952–)
Former LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman was thrust into the national spotlight as key investigator and witness in the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

Synopsis

Mark Fuhrman was born in 1952 in Eatonville, Washington, and joined the Marines when he was 18. Afterward, he entered the Los Angeles Police Department, eventually working his way up to detective. His life would take a dramatic turn in 1994-95 when he became a key witness in the O.J. Simpson murder trial. The defense portrayed Fuhrman as a racist cop out to frame Simpson, who was eventually acquitted. Fuhrman went on to become a best-selling author and serve as a guest commentator on news programs.

On the Job

Upon his discharge from the military in 1975, Fuhrman moved to California and became a distinguished cadet at the Los Angeles Police Academy, graduating second in his class. However, Fuhrman soon endured a divorce from his first wife, and in 1977 he took on a particularly stressful assignment as part of a new team assembled to crack down on Latino street gangs in East Los Angeles. 

The following year Fuhrman's good friend, a fellow police officer in San Clemente, was murdered. Fuhrman experienced feelings of disillusionment with law enforcement and disgust for the dangerous neighborhoods in which he worked. As his depression deepened, Fuhrman sought solace in the Behavioral Science Service Section, the department’s psychological counseling unit.

After being briefly placed on leave, Fuhrman returned and was reassigned to the West Los Angeles division that moved him from the mean streets of East L.A. to a neighborhood of fame and affluence. Fuhrman thrived in his new assignment and was promoted to detective in 1989.

O.J. Simpson Trial Testimony

On June 13, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found murdered outside Brown's condo, and evidence found at the scene pointed to O.J. Simpson, Brown’s ex-husband. Fuhrman was the first law enforcement official to go to Simpson’s house to question him, but Simpson didn’t answer the door. Testifying for the prosecution in 1995, Fuhrman said he then jumped a wall on Simpson’s property, where he discovered a bloody glove. 

Simpson’s legal team took a controversial approach to the evidence found by Fuhrman: In both the courtroom and media, they painted the detective as a racist cop out to frame the African-American football legend by planting evidence. Pulling witnesses from Fuhrman’s past, they made a strong case, and Fuhrman’s reputation was damaged. He retired in August 1995, two months before the trial concluded with a not-guilty verdict for Simpson.

Later Successes

Following the O.J. Simpson trial, Fuhrman became a best-selling author, writing such true-crime investigative books as Murder in Brentwood (1997), Murder in Greenwich (1998) and Silent Witness (2005). He is also a regular commentator on national news programs.

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