Could The LAPD Officer Who Allegedly Kept The Knife Found At O.J. Simpson's Estate Be Prosecuted? — UPDATE
If you're infatuated with FX's latest hit series American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, here is some news you're going to want to pay attention to: On Friday, TMZ reported that "several years ago" (possibly as far back as 1998), a knife was found at O.J. Simpson's estate allegedly by a construction worker when the house was being demolished and that it may or may not be the murder weapon that killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in 1994. (The murder weapon was never found.) Allegedly, the construction worker gave the knife to an off-duty LAPD officer who was working security for a movie shoot across the street, but the cop allegedly decided to hold onto the knife, rather than turning it over to the authorities. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the LAPD is investigating the knife situation. That said, could the LAPD officer who allegedly kept the knife be prosecuted?
(Update: On Friday, the LAPD held a press conference in which Andrew Neiman, a police captain, said of the cop who allegedly had possession of the knife, "Investigators will look into if there is any potentiality of criminal charges related to this." Neiman also confirmed that the knife is now in LAPD custody, that the name of the police officer who allegedly kept the knife will not be shared with the public, and that the case of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman's deaths is open.)
Seeing as the unnamed cop allegedly held onto the knife for years, if this is true, he could face some trouble. Per TMZ, in late January 2016, the cop retired from the LAPD and allegedly reached out to a friend who worked in LAPD's Robbery Homicide Division (RHD). The cop allegedly wanted his RHD friend to find the Departmental Record number for the Brown Simpson/Goldman murder case, so he could have the number engraved on a frame he wanted to use for the knife, according to TMZ.
TMZ reports that the friend of the cop allegedly told his superiors and they demanded that the now retired officer hand over the knife, which TMZ claims he did.
So, now what? Will this cop be prosecuted and maybe even go to jail? If the knife is found to be the weapon that killed Brown Simpson and Goldman, the cop would be in possession of a murder weapon. Does this mean he was also obstructing justice and withholding evidence? TMZ claims their sources say the case remains open, since Simpson was found not guilty. However, according to a June 2014 article published by The Telegraph, "the state of California considers the case closed."
According to California law, Penal Code 135 PC, an individual who "willfully destroys, erases, or conceals [evidence for a trial, inquiry,or investigation], with the intent to prevent it or its content from being produced, is guilty of a misdemeanor."
Per Shouse California Law Group, if someone were to destroy or conceal "a weapon used to commit a violent crime," then he/she is violating California's Penal Code 135. But Shouse California Law Group reports that when it comes to "willfully and knowingly destroying or concealing evidence," the only way concealing evidence could be a crime is if that person knew the evidence would be used as evidence. Again, seeing as Simpson was found not guilty and can't be tried again for the same crime due to double jeopardy, the cop holding onto a supposed murder weapon may not matter.
It's hard to determine at this point what will happen to the LAPD officer who allegedly kept the knife for so many years, since nothing has been confirmed, including the fact that the alleged knife might not even be related to the Brown Simpson and Goldman murders.