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LAPD ABUSES CALLED PIVOTAL TO O.J. VERDICT

SHARE LAPD ABUSES CALLED PIVOTAL TO O.J. VERDICT

O.J. Simpson's acquittal on double-murder charges had far more to do with the Los Angeles Police Department's history of abuses than the race of the predominantly black jury that cleared the football star, prosecutor Christopher Darden said in a speech Saturday.

"I am as disturbed by that verdict as anyone," the Los Angeles deputy district attorney said in his first public appearance since Oct. 3, the day of Simpson's acquittal. "But I don't know if we could have expected any more from those jurors."Darden, who is black, said he did not feel the jury of nine blacks, two whites and one Hispanic had acquitted Simpson because of his race, although "it is easy to wave that flag."

"I'm not ready yet to call that verdict a race-based verdict," Darden said. "There was a whole lot of other things that went into that verdict."

Public opinion polls have shown a sharp divide between white and black Americans over the June 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simp-son and Ronald Goldman, with most whites feeling Simpson was wrongly acquitted and most blacks feeling the verdict was just.

Darden said he believed the long history of abuse of power by authorities in Los Angeles made the jury more likely to acquit Simpson when considering the standard of "reasonable doubt."

"If that (a juror's) experience has always been negative if it involves contact with the police and the courts, then what kind of jury verdict can we expect?" he asked.

He told the audience of 750 alumni of the University of Miami Law School - most of them attorneys, judges and their families - that any black man, in-cluding himself, could tell a story of injustice.

He told how a Walter Darden was murdered in Georgia in 1930 by a white landlord after an argument. The landlord, he said, was not prosecuted, although he confessed to the crime.

Darden would not say whether that victim was his grandfather or great-grandfather, asking, "Does it matter?"

He said he has received more than 25 boxes of letters about the case, including about 20 from whites that disturbed him by saying the verdict had inspired them to racial hatred.