Twenty-eight years ago, on a Friday just like today, a police pursuit began that would captivate the nation.
O.J. Simpson tried to evade police and flee from a San Fernando Valley home. The trek kickstarted a two-hour slow-speed chase that paralyzed businesses and left West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip deserted as residents scrambled to the nearest TV to watch as Simpson’s every move was chronicled live.
On June 17, 1994, two days after Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and friend Ron Goldman were found slain at her Brentwood home, Los Angeles police sought the former football star on first-degree murder charges. He was scheduled to turn himself in at 11 a.m. that day.
But as the hours ticked by, the Los Angeles Police Department grew impatient and headed to the home where Simpson was staying. They discovered Simpson had slipped away — but he was not alone. By his side was longtime friend and teammate Al Cowlings, who, according to friends, “followed O.J. like his shadow.” The pair hopped into Cowling’s white Ford Bronco and headed south to Orange County.
The LAPD held a news conference just before 2 p.m., officially announcing Simpson was a fugitive. Hours later, police traced phone calls made with Simpson’s phone and were able to locate the white Bronco.
A massive police pursuit ensued over the next two hours. Twenty police vehicles gave chase as Simpson and Cowlings made the 60-mile trek from Orange County, returning to Simpson’s Brentwood home. TV news choppers broadcast the entire spectacle, which caused traffic to come to a standstill from Disneyland to Los Angeles.
Commuters stopped in their tracks to cheer Simpson on, with some even holding signs that read, “Go O.J!” At the same time, callers were flooding radio stations, pleading with Simpson to turn himself in.
The nation watched in disbelief as the events unfolded.
The pursuit ultimately concluded in front of Simpson’s Brentwood home a little before 8 p.m., and negotiations began. Simpson entered the property, where police allowed him to call his mom and drink a glass of orange juice. Afterward, he was taken into custody and ultimately booked on two counts of first-degree murder.
Here is coverage from The Times’ archives of the infamous 1994 chase.
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