28 years ago today: The O.J. Simpson police chase that captivated L.A. and the nation

Police cars follow a white Ford Bronco.
It has been 28 years since this scene of CHP patrol cars chasing Al Cowlings and O.J. Simpson in a white Bronco on the 91 Freeway. The chase ended in Simpson’s arrest at his Brentwood home.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: O.J. Simpson held after wild chase


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.

TIMELINE: How the O.J. Simpson white Bronco case unfolded

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.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Fugitive relied on and was undone by cellular phone

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.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Simpson chase, capture draw high TV ratings

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.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: USC, ex-teammates reel from shock, disbelief

The Angels barely took the time to shake hands on the field Friday, quickly retreating to the clubhouse after their dramatic 5-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park.

June 18, 1994

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.

O.J. Simpson was a fugitive, and it seemed the whole world was looking for him.

June 17, 2019

Say it isn’t so, O.J. That is the refrain one kept hearing after former football star O.J.

June 19, 1994

It was no secret: O.J. Simpson was in trouble, facing evidence that mounted daily.

June 18, 1994

Text of a letter to the public by O.J.

June 18, 1994

It’s after 11 o’clock here in the office on Friday night, and I’m almost afraid to go home.

June 19, 1994

Watching the nationally televised spectacle from the Los Angeles freeways and Brentwood Friday evening was less exciting for me than it seems to have been for many others.

June 22, 1994