Trial watchers, sociologists and even FX’s show “People v OJ Simpson” have argued that the jurors in O.J. Simpson’s murder case acquitted him as payback for the Rodney King beating. And in ESPN’s new event series, “O.J.: Made in America,” one juror finally comes out and says it.
In an excerpt aired on public radio show “Fresh Air” this week, juror Carrie Bess, who is now in her 70s, is asked whether “there are members of the jury that voted to acquit OJ because of Rodney King.”
“Yes,” she says simply. Later she says that she was one of them.
Ezra Edelman’s five-part documentary shows the long history of police brutality against African Americans in Los Angeles, including the beating by four officers of King, an unarmed driver who had led police on a chase. The officers were acquitted, which sparked the L.A. riots of 1992 in which 55 people died.
Bess’ comments come in the final episode of “Made in America,” when the series concludes on ESPN Saturday.
Here’s a transcription:
Interviewer: Do you think there are members of the jury that voted to acquit OJ because of Rodney King?Bess: Yes.
Interviewer: You do?
Interviewer: How many of you do you think felt that way?
Bess: Oh, probably 90 percent of them.
Interviewer: 90 percent. Did you feel that way?
Interviewer: That was payback.
Interviewer: Do you think that’s right?
At that question, she holds up her hands.
Simpson was acquitted in 1995 of killing Ron Goldman and his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, after his lawyers told the jurors — who were mostly African American — that Simpson was the victim of a racist LAPD conspiracy.
Simpson was later found liable for their deaths in civil court, and sentenced to 33 years in prison in 2007 in an armed robbery in which he said he was trying to recover sports memorabilia that was stolen from him.
“O.J.: Made in America” airs at 9 p.m. ET this coming Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (June 15, 17 and 19).