In an unbelievable development, news reports have revealed that an unnamed police officer found a knife on the estate where O.J. Simpson lived at the time of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Sources say that the knife appeared to have possible blood residue. Here is the truly incredible part: the officer, who was off-duty at the time, kept the knife as a souvenir and later sought to confirm the case number for a proper framing of the knife. There still may be more to this story and we have not heard from the officer. However, unless the officer clearly knew that this knife was not involved in the crime or other crime, the failure to disclose the potential evidence is startling. There is no indication that the officer has been arrested for the removal of the possible evidence. While it could prove to unrelated to the murders, the officer clearly thought that it might be key evidence.
The discovery may have been made around the time the home was destroyed in 1998 in the Brentwood section of LA. Some reports indicate that the officer was working at a “movie shoot” when a construction worker turned over the knife to him. He then allegedly decided to keep it for himself.
The trial featured a 15-inch knife with a retractable blade that Simpson purchased before the murder. However, forensic tests later revealed that the knife had no scratches or bloodstains consistent with a double homicide. A kitchen knife was also later found on or near the property. This latest find reportedly involves a knife that would be inconsistent with the murder. However, that does not change the seriousness of the officer’s conduct in keeping the potential evidence.
It presents some interesting issues since a jury had already found Simpson not guilty in 1995. Thus, he could not be retried without violating the double jeopardy clause. Yet, it was still possible evidence of a crime that was removed and hidden by an officer.
The potential evidence is a folding buck knife and is now being tested for hair and fingerprints after being handed over the LAPD’s Robbery and Homicide Division.
The officer, who should be named, had contacted a friend in the homicide division and told him he was getting the knife framed for his wall. At least that officer was professional and reported the finding.
Obviously, there is great interest in the testing. However, there should also be equal interest in how to handle a now retired officer who stole and kept potential evidence of a crime. It is simply unimaginable how an officer could justify such an act to himself, even if he found the knife off-duty. Officers are expected to conduct themselves (even off-duty) in accordance with law enforcement policies and principles. There are few acts more inimical to those principles than the removal of a possible murder weapon as a personal trophy without reporting it to the police. Indeed, for all this officer knew, this knife could have been a weapon in another crime. It could certainly help close a technically open case since Simpson was never convicted. If it were linked to the crime, it would raise serious questions about the adequacy of the police search of this property after the crime. It would be very serious if, after all of the time and money spent on the search, that the murder weapon was missed on the property. Indeed, it would seem highly doubtful that a knife would have made it past such a search at the time.
What do you think should be done with this officer?