This is the third part of our multi-part series which aims to be the most comprehensive compilation of well-sourced, credible information about O.J. Simpson and domestic violence. Part three focuses on the claim that LAPD responded to multiple incidents of domestic discord between O.J and Nicole Simpson.
O.J. Simpson and Domestic Violence: A Multi-Part Investigative Series.
Part 3: “You’ve Been Out Here Eight Times Before”
The second part of this multi-part series about O.J. Simpson and Domestic Violence focused on the New Year’s Day 1989 domestic abuse incident which resulted in O.J. Simpson pleading no-contest to the misdemeanor charge of 273.5 penal code. Most are unaware that the January 1, 1995 incident provided almost all of the domestic violence evidence which the prosecution introduced during O.J. Simpson’s 1995 murder trial. In this part we will explore one of the more troubling claims to emerge from the New Year’s Day 1989 incident.
A Shocking Claim
One shocking claim, which for years has been presented as fact, is that prior to the 1989 incident, LAPD had responded to eight similar incidents of domestic abuse but never arrested O.J. Simpson.
Origin of the Claim that LAPD Responded to Eight Incidents Prior to January 1, 1989
The origin of the claim that LAPD responded to eight prior incidents between O.J. and Nicole but took no action is the testimony of Detective John Edwards. For background, Detective Edwards and his partner. Officer Patricia Milewski. responded to the January 1, 1989 incident.
Testifying as a witness for the prosecution during at Mr. Simpson’s 1995 murder trial, Detective Edwards stated that Nicole Brown Simpson made the following statement:
You never do anything about him. You come out. You have been out here eight times. You never do anything about him. Statement LAPD Detective Edwards Claims Nicole Brown Simpson made to him on January 1, 1989
Note: When Nicole Simpson allegedly made this statement, O.J. Simpson was not present.
Responding to prosecutor Christopher Darden’s questions about O.J. Simpson’s reaction upon learning that he would be arrested, Detective Edwards testified that Simpson said:
What makes you so special? Why are you doing this? You guys have been out here eight times before and no one has ever done anything like this before. Comments Detective Edwards Claims were said by O.J. Simpson on January 1, 1989.
Note: When O.J. Simpson allegedly made this statement, Nicole Brown Simpson was inside the LAPD cruiser speaking with Officer Milewski.
“Show me in that report where there’s any indication of any discussion about police being out there on prior occasions.”
One must agree that it is curious that both O.J. and Nicole would independently make such remarkably and specifically similar statements. O.J. Simpson’s ‘Dream Team’ of defense attorney’s did not pursue this coincidence during the 1995 criminal trial, however Mr. Simpson’s attorney’s handling his defense of the wrongful death lawsuit brought by the Goldman and Brown families did in their cross-examination of Detective John Edwards on November 18, 1996:
Daniel Leonard [Mr. Simpson’s Attorney]: You described in some detail discussions that you had with both Nicole Brown Simpson and O.J. Simpson, referring to other times that the police allegedly had been out to Rockingham, correct? Do you remember that in your direct testimony?
Detective John Edwards: Yes.
Leonard: And in fact, if you recall, both Nicole Brown Simpson, and minutes later, O.J. Simpson, used the same exact language, basically, didn’t they? Let me —
Edwards: Close, but not quite.
Leondard: Let me refresh your recollection. Didn’t they both say, according to you, ‘You guys have been out here eight times before’? First Nicole said that; minutes later, O.J. Simpson said that. Do you remember testifying to that?
Edwards: Right. They both said that in a sentence, but the sentence was different.
Leonard: Focusing on the number, they both said the number eight, didn’t they?
Leonard: Not ten, not several, not many, but the number eight, right?
Leonard: Now, I want to you to take a look at what’s been marked as 2191. Show me in that report where there’s any indication of any discussion about police being out there on prior occasions. And this is a report that was prepared at your behest, reviewed by you the next day, correct?
Edwards: Yes. It doesn’t have the original report. It’s in the supplemental.
Leondard: Now, when you reviewed that report, did you remember that it wasn’t in there and suggest that it be in there? Did you remember at the time when you reviewed the report the next day?
Edwards: It wasn’t the next day; it was the same day, January 1, 1989. [Referring to exhibit 2191]
Leonard: And all events were fresh in your mind, correct?
Edwards: That’s right.
Leonard: Much fresher than they were when you did a supplemental report a month and a half later, right? Wouldn’t you agree with that?
Edwards: I remembered quite a few details later on that I should have put in the report; that’s true.
Leonard: The — what was it that sparked your memory six weeks later, sir? Anything in particular?
John Q. Kelly [Brown Family Attorney] Objection. Argumentative. Object to the form, also.
Judge Fujisaki: Overruled.
Edwards: The City Attorney asked me to relay exactly what was said in detail back and forth, so I wrote it down.
Leonard: But when you reviewed it the next day, sir —
Edwards: It wasn’t the next day; it was January 1, 1996.
Kelly: ’89, you mean?
Edwards: Excuse me. Today is ’96 it’s 1989, January 1, the same day as the incident.
Leonard: It wasn’t in the report that was made by your partner, nor did you ask your partner to include it in the report, correct?
Edwards: Apparently not. It’s not in the report.
To be clear:
The January 1, 1989 police report does not mention either O.J. or Nicole Simpson making statements about LAPD responding to prior incidents of domestic discord. Nor does it include the detailed statements that Detective Edwards claims both O.J. and Nicole made during their separate discussions with him.
Thankfully Detective Edwards memory recall was far more vivid when he wrote a supplemental report a month after the New Year’s Day incident. In the supplemental report Edwards was able to remember the detailed comments made to him by both O.J. and Nicole.
I cannot imagine anyone would question the credibility or incredible memory of one of only 44 individuals out the Los Angeles Police Departments of 9,192 full-time sworn personnel to be identified as being a “problem officer” by the Christopher Commission. For reference, the Christopher Commission defined “problem officers” as “officers with six or more complaints of excessive force or improper tactics between 1986 and 1990.”
While this information certainly raises some red flags, there is not enough evidence completely dismiss the suggestion by Detective Edwards that both O.J. and Nicole spoke of “eight times” prior to January 1, 1989 that LAPD had been to Rockingham to deal with similar incidents between them.
Fact Checking the Claim of Prior Incidents
Prosecutors Ask LAPD to Determine Whether there had been Other Incidents at the Simpson Home
On January 3, 1989 the case against O.J. Simpson was assigned to Detective Mike Farrell of the West L.A. Division’s Crimes Against Persons detail. Detective Farrell reviewed the reports, examined the evidence and separately interviewed both O.J. and Nicole. Using this information Detective Farrell presented the case against Simpson to the city attorney’s office who would ultimately determine whether to prosecute Simpson for misdemeanor spousal abuse. The prosecutors were not convinced and asked Farrell to determine whether there had been other incidents at the Simpson home. If there were additional incidents, they would prosecute.
LAPD’s Search for Additional Incidents
Testifying at Mr. Simpson’s 1995 murder trial, Detective Farrell explains the steps he took to determine if LAPD had responded to any other incident at 360 N. Rockingham or involving O.J. Simpson:
According to the testimony of Detective Farrell in the video above, his investigation included the following:
- Search of LAPD Records for any report involving O.J. Simpson or incidents occurring at 360 N. Rockingham Ave.
- Work with LAPD Communications Division (911) to conduct a search of their records for 911 calls from or radio dispatch to 360 N. Rockingham Ave.
- Asking fellow West Los Angeles Division officers if they had responded to any incidents at the Simpson estate or involving O.J. Simpson.
Results of the LAPD Search
The search of LAPD records produced no additional incidents and the search of LAPD Communications Division records yielded no additional incidents. In fact of all the officers assigned to West Los Angeles division that Farrell spoke with, he only found one officer who had responded to an incident at the Simpson estate.
Hey, It’s Mark Fuhrman
Bill Whitaker of CBS News shares that officer’s story and provides additional details of the search for additional incidents of domestic abuse involving O.J. Simpson:
Additional LAPD Records
Prosecutor Christopher Darden asked Detective Farrell about additional LAPD records that would document additional LAPD responses to incidents at 360 N. Rockingham. Here Detective Farrell explains to the jurors that officers are required to submit a Daily Field Activity Report (DFAR) at the end of each shift they work:
Christopher Darden, correctly, notes that it would be an overwhelming task for one person (Farrell) to hand search all of West LA Division’s DFARs submitted from 1984-89.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Army of Resources
In Reasonable Doubts: The Criminal Justice System and the O.J. Simpson Case, Alan Dershowitz noted that while the defense “had about a dozen lawyers, while the prosecution used nearly four dozen.”
Dershowitz published excerpts of an internal memorandum he obtained that was written by a Los Angeles County Assistant District Attorney which revealed that no trial in the history of that office “‘has enveloped and consumed the passions of the members of our staff more than People v. Simpson.’” In addition to having the nearly 1,000 lawyers who worked for the DA’s office as a resource, “the prosecution had access to the entire Los Angeles Police Department, the FBI, the Chicago Police Department and even Interpol — tens of thousands of officers.” [Page 151] The District Attorney’s Office also employed a number of Investigators, Law Clerks and other support staff.
In the acknowledgements section of her book, Without A Doubt, Marcia Clark lists the names of 45 individuals in the District Attorney’s Office who worked on the Simpson case. In his book, In Contempt, Christopher Darden thanks 46 men and women who worked on the case for the prosecution.
To understand the enormity of the prosecution team, look at the photos below which show only some of the individuals on the team. With such enormous resources it is far more likely that the prosecution or LAPD did check all of the DFARs and were simply unhappy with the results of their search.
Why is this important?
Given this plethora of resources that District Attorney Gil Garcetti and the prosecution team had at their disposal, it is difficult to believe that they did not assign a group of law clerks or interns the task of searching through the West Los Angeles Division’s Daily Field Activity Report (DFAR) for any mention of 360 N. Rockingham Avenue or O.J. Simpson in order to establish additional incidents that they could present at trial.
Were the DFAR Records Even Available?
The short answer is yes.
In 1968, the California Legislature enacted the California Public Records Act (CPRA) under Government Code (GC) sections 6250-6270. In its findings and declarations, mindful of the right of individuals’ privacy, the Legislature declared it was the public’s right to access information concerning the people’s business. As defined in the Public Records Act, GC 6252 “public records include any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics.”
Per the LAPD website: “Based on this definition, the report of crimes and incidents written in the course of business of a law enforcement agency are public records and subject to release under CPRA with some exemptions.”
Note: DFARs falls under the CPRA.
In addition to the DFAR’s filed by officers of the West Los Angeles Division, records of police radio calls are also maintained by the 600 employees assigned to LAPD’s Communications Division.
The records search the Communication Division conducted on behalf of Detective Farrell yielded no additional incidents.
When an LAPD officer responds to an address — dispatched by radio call or from an officer’s own observation — even if no police report is filed, there is at least one written record establishing the address, date and time the officer visited a location. It is very telling that, with the exception of the incident that Mark Furhman responded to, there has never been evidence presented at the criminal trial or civil trial to establish additional incidents involving O.J. Simpson which were responded to by LAPD.
Since most West Los Angeles Division patrol units have two officers per car, if there had been eight incidents there would have been sixteen or more cops with stories of responding to Simpson’s Rockingham estate. However in the 20+ years since the criminal trial, not one LAPD officer has come forward with evidence that they had responded to an incident involving O.J. Simpson. No search under either the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or California Public Records Act (CPRA) has yielded additional incidents.
There is no evidence to establish that prior to January 1, 1989 LAPD had responded to eight incidents at 360 N. Rockingham or involving O.J. Simpson.
The evidence shows that prior to New Year’s Day 1989 LAPD responded to only one incident at the Simpson estate which involved shouting, not hitting.
Note: An upcoming edition of this series will examine the incident in October 1993 which included a call to 911, shouting but no physical violence.
The 1995 criminal trial and the 1996-97 civil trial did not present any evidence of LAPD responding to an incident of domestic violence involving O.J. and Nicole Simpson occurring after January 1, 1989.
The harsh reality is that the notion that LAPD responded to Rockingham “eight times” is nothing more than a myth created by one of 44 individuals in all of LAPD that the Christopher Commission identified as a “problem officer.” This myth is void of fact.
This is the third part of a multi-part series investigating O.J. Simpson’s History of Domestic Violence. Part four of this series will examine O.J. Simpson’s actions in the aftermath of the New Year’s Day 1989 incident. We will explore whether O.J. repented & reformed or repeated his behavior.