When the most famous tenant of the New York City apartment complex, John Lennon, pulled up to the Dakota on December 8, 1980, cab driver Richard Peterson thought he would get a glimpse of him.
Instead, he happened to see one of the most horrific incidents in popular culture history: John Lennon's death. In the three-part Apple TV+ documentary John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial, which is available for viewing right now,
When Peterson heard gunfire for the first time since that horrific night more than 40 years ago, he was talking about what he saw and how he initially believed they were filming a movie. Peterson tells the story in the series that he picked up two people that evening and took them to the Dakota for a party.
John Lennon's wife, Yoko Ono, jumped out of her taxi as soon as he pulled up and headed toward the building. "Aha! Peterson recalled thinking, "I suppose John Lennon is next in line." "I hadn't actually seen him before. As example, "Well, I can say I saw John Lennon."
Instead of the 40-year-old musician, Peterson saw Mark David Chapman at that same moment, who he recalls as a "heavyset, chunky guy." "I am gazing at him through the front window of my taxi. I'm aimed at him, prepared to fire. Five tries. This guy just shot John Lennon. Says he, "He shot him."
"I thought they were filmmakers. That's what I thought they were making a movie at first. That is, until I noticed that there were no lights, no cameras, and that I had to admit, "Hey, this aint no movie." After shooting Lennon, Peterson recalls that his assassin, who remains behind bars after having pled guilty to second-degree murder in 1981, remained at the scene and acted as "calm as a cucumber."
The driver is among the many people that are interviewed for the new documentary series, which is narrated by Kiefer Sutherland and directed by Nick Holt and Rob Coldstream. Producers Simon Bunney and Louis Lee Ray are joined by Coldstream, Mark Raphael, and executive producer David Glover.
Dr. Naomi Goldstein, the psychiatrist who first assessed Chapman, and Dakota doorman Jay Hastings, who speaks with PEOPLE about his experiences in this week's issue, are among the other participants. The program goes deeper into Chapman's inquiry and conviction.
with defense lawyers and prosecutors arguing about his mental state. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison in 2022, and this was his 12th time turning down parole. He said that Lennon was killed for fame after his death and called his actions "selfish."