O.J. Simpson beat his wife so severely in early 1989 that she required hospital treatment, and told police at his Brentwood mansion that he could not understand why they wanted to arrest him since it was their ninth response to a domestic disturbance report from the house, according to police reports released late Thursday.
"The police have been out here eight times before, and now you're going to arrest me for this?" Simpson is quoted in one report as yelling to two police officers who were responding to a 911 call. "This is a family matter. Why do you want to make a big deal out of it when we can handle it?"
The documents were released by the Los Angeles Police Department and city attorney's office after Freedom of Information Act requests by the news media, including the Los Angeles Times. The reports say that when police arrived at Simpson's North Rockingham Avenue house Jan. 1, 1989, they saw Nicole Simpson running out of some bushes, bruised and scratched.
"He's going to kill me, he's going to kill me," she cried while running toward the officers, one of them wrote. "She kept saying: 'You never do anything about him. You talk to him and then leave."
During a fight after a New Year's Eve party at the house, Simpson had punched and kicked his wife and pulled her hair and screamed, "I'll kill you!" according to the documents. He had slapped her so hard, one police report said, that a handprint was left on her neck.
Four months later, when Simpson pleaded no contest to spousal battery charges, Municipal Judge Ronald Schoenberg overruled prosecutors' requests that he serve a month in jail because of the severity of the beating and undergo an intensive yearlong treatment program for men who batter their wives.
Instead, according to the court documents and interviews with prosecutors Thursday, Simpson received no jail time and was allowed to pick his own psychiatrist and receive counseling over the phone, which prosecutors said was unprecedented.
The reports are in marked contrast to a public statement by Simpson when he was named an NBC football analyst in July, 1989. At a news conference to announce his hiring, Simpson downplayed the incident: "It was really a bum rap. We had a fight, that's all."
On Thursday, prosecutors said they had sought the jail time because of the severity of the beating, and that they had wanted Simpson to undergo intensive treatment for spousal abuse because they believed his problem was deep-rooted and potentially dangerous to his wife.
"I was very concerned for her safety," Lisa Foux, who counseled Nicole Simpson as a victims' advocate for the city attorney's office, said Thursday. "Without appropriate intervention and consequences for batterers' actions, (we believed) the violence (would) get more frequent, and more severe."
Prosecutors in the 1989 incident emphasized Thursday that they were not trying to link the earlier case with the homicide investigation. Nevertheless, the prosecutor in the case, Deputy City Atty. Robert Pingle, said: "I was not happy with the sentence. I felt that the case merited jail time."
Howard Weitzman, who represented Simpson in that case and who was his lawyer in the current homicide investigation until Wednesday, would not comment on the reports. Schoenberg could not be reached for comment.
After the case was over, Nicole Simpson talked frequently with another victims' advocate. "Nicole repeatedly told her that she feared for her life," said Deputy City Atty. Alana L. Bowman, domestic violence coordinator for the city attorney's office.
Police said Thursday that they did not know exactly how many times officers had been called to the Simpson residence to intervene in domestic disputes.
When officers first responded at 3:30 on that morning in 1989, a woman later identified as a housekeeper told them over an intercom that "everything was fine" and that police were not needed, one report said.
But the officers, who had received word through police dispatchers of a frantic 911 from Nicole Simpson, demanded to see her. Then they saw her run out of the bushes.
As she told the officers her account of what happened, O.J. Simpson came outside dressed in a bathrobe, and began yelling at his wife, who was seated in a police car.
Simpson told police that he had been drinking with his wife when they began arguing, and that any injuries were the accidental result of "a mutual wrestling-type altercation."
As the officers took a crime report from Nicole Simpson, he became angry that he was going to be arrested. He later slipped out a side exit, got into his Bentley and drove off, one police report said.
Police officials said late Thursday that they did not know if Simpson was arrested later that day or turned himself in.