Police Officer Assaults Photographer p. 24

By: M.L. Stein Expected witness at O.J. Simpson trial gets into an
altercation with Spokane Spokesman-Review photographer sp.

LOS ANGELES POLICE detective Mark Fuhrman, already a potential star witness in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, made more news last week by assaulting a news photographer.
The incident occurred at the Spokane International Airport, as Fuhrman was returning from a house-hunting trip in Idaho.
Learning that he was at the airport, Spokane Spokesman-Review reporter Bill Morlin and photographer Dan McComb went there on the possibility of an interview.
They found Fuhrman and his wife in a restaurant, waited until they finished their meal and then approached the couple.
At first, Morlin reported, Fuhrman was surprised to be met by the press but eventually talked at some length about the Simpson case. He defended his investigation of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman against charges by defense attorneys that he had framed the celebrity suspect out of racial animosity.
"I just did my job," Morlin quoted him as saying. "It irritates the defense the most because I did it right."
Fuhrman acknowledged his search for a house in Northern Idaho, disclosing that he was sick of becoming a celebrity himself and planned to retire after the Simpson trial.
But when McComb began shooting pictures, Fuhrman allegedly went into a rage, hitting the photographer in the chest with a steel briefcase. McComb continued snapping the shutter as he was pushed to the floor of the terminal. Buttons were ripped off his shirt.
"I was just doing my job, and I told him that," McComb, who was unhurt, said later.
"But he kept getting more and more upset until he grabbed me by the shirt and shoved me to the ground."
Furhrmam was questioned by airport police but not charged. He reportedly told the officers that McComb was blocking his path.
Both Spokesman-Review managing editor Chris Peck and photo editor John Sale deplored Fuhrman's behavior.
"Dan McComb acted in a totally professional way," said Sales. "He didn't try to impede Detective Fuhrman. The attack, as far as I'm concerned, was totally unprovoked."
Peck, on Jan. 26, complained about the assault in a letter to Los Angeles Police Chief Willie Williams, stating: "This lapse of professional conduct and show of temper needs to be investigated by your office.
"As an editor, I expect my reporters and photographers to keep it together, maintain a professional decorum and treat people with respect. The public expects this of the media. The same should be expected of LAPD officers."
Peck said Morlin and McComb maintained a "high professional standard" during the encounter, a fact that witnesses could confirm.
"And one more thing," Peck added, "Dan McComb makes $455 a week. He could use a new shirt."
Lt. John Dunkin, of the LAPD's press relations bureau, told E&P on Jan. 27 that Chief Williams had not received the letter. However, he said, the department was aware of the airport occurrence and it was being routinely investigated.
Fuhrman's attorney, Robert Tourtelot of Los Angeles, told the Spokesman-Review, "I'm sorry the whole incident happened." He said his client was angered because he thought his wife also was being photographed.
"The whole situation started because of an overzealous photographer," the lawyer commented.
Morlin said Fuhrman was told before and after the fracas that his wife's image would not be published.
?( At left, a photo of Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman, taken by Spokane-Review photographer Dan McComb, as McComb was being assaulted by Fuhrman. At right, McComb shows his ripped shirt, following the altercation.) [Photo & Caption]


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