The O.J. Simpson slow-speed chase, 20 years later

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On the first anniversary of the shooting death of Odin Lloyd by (allegedly) former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, there’s another murder-related anniversary in the NFL.

On June 17, 1994, Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson led police on a slow-speed chase in Los Angeles prior to his arrest on charges that he killed his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

The ride of the white Ford Bronco, driven by former Simpson teammate Al Cowlings, was broadcast coast-to-coast by all networks, with even NBC nudging the NBA Finals to the bottom corner of the screen to permit video and audio coverage of the chase.

The moment carried a real-time risk of a violent, immediate demise for Simpson.  It also caused many who initially rejected the notion that Simpson committed the killings to presume guilt.  Especially once it was learned that he had with him his passport, a fake goatee and mustache, and a bottle of makeup adhesive.

The apparent suicide note written by Simpson and read for cameras by the late Robert Kardashian (the father of those Kardashians) also created the impression that Simpson was anything but innocent.

“Don’t feel sorry for me,” the note said.  “I’ve had a great life, great friends.  Please think of the real O.J. and not this lost person.”

Not long after he was taken into custody, the lost person found his charisma and swagger, declaring in court that he is “absolutely, 100 percent not guilty.”  The battle at that point officially had been joined, and the next 15 months or so consisted of preparation for and litigation of the Trial of the Century, culminating in an if-it-doesn’t-fit-you-must-acquittal that ignored overwhelming DNA evidence linking Simpson directly to the crime.

A jury in a civil case later accepted that evidence, finding Simpson responsible for the killings and entering a $33.5 million verdict against him.  The dogged efforts of Fred Goldman, the father of Ronald Goldman, to pursue every possible penny from Simpson led directly to Simpson’s ongoing incarceration in Nevada on kidnapping and armed robbery charges that flowed from efforts to recover memorabilia Simpson apparently hoped to sell under the table, avoiding the court order siphoning money for the rest of his life to estates of those that, in the eyes of the civil but not criminal justice system, he slaughtered.

79 responses to “The O.J. Simpson slow-speed chase, 20 years later

  1. Cocaine is a hell of a drug… And Johnny Cochran was a hell of a lawyer!

    If I was as rich as these guys the moment I killed somebody I’d be on my way to a private jet and headed out of the country. STILL can’t believe Hernandez just sat around the house waiting to be arrested.

  2. This was one of those moments in time where you’ll always remember where you were when it happened.

    While OJ wasn’t technically the killer, he hired Glen Rogers to do the job, same thing.

  3. Simpson i will remember you as a nasty peice of work, a complete loser and killer who should be removed from the football HoF and put into the Hall of Embarrasment.

  4. O.J. was found not guilty because of one man. One very stupid man that was an over-zealous, crooked cop named Mark Fuhrman that wasn’t happy with the true evidence and tried to fabricate even more in order to bag his prey. It all backfired and O.J. walked.

  5. If OJ would have tried that getaway today he would be stuck in bumper to bumper traffic and the murder would be caught on home home security video then blasted all over TMZ. Those stupid jurors would have let him off anyway.

  6. Should be grounds for life in prison for what he did to our already horrible Friday afternoon commute in SoCal

  7. I was 11 and did not know any better. After, i grew up and studied the case, i can not beleive he is not in Pelican bay.

  8. I will never ever forget this night

    I was in Yankee Stadium sitting in a Luxury Box adjacent to Mr. Steinbrenner’s and the Yankees were getting there brains beat in by the Milwaukee Brewers so bad that we decided to sit in the lounge that had AC and a color TV and we put on the Rockets vs Knicks NBA finals game and lo and behold who is driving around LA with helicopters following them around Al Cowling and OJ – what a night that was a memorable night I will never forget

  9. Jimmyt – you are dead wrong. Fuhrman was a decorated cop who arguably perjured himself over a bias issue that was collateral to the Simspon prosecution. It’s cute that you’re vacant lot head would actually say this. But what do I know? I was only a prosecutor and defense attorney for 8 years…

    1) The note mentioned above was neither admitted as evidence and thus not mentioned in the closing argument. Vincent Bugliosi, arguably the best prosecutor ever, said this was one of the biggest botches of the case.

    2) The current “CSI Effect” on juries would have resulted in a conviction in 20 minutes had this trial happened today. Regardless, it’s a pity the prosecution was so idiotic it tried the case in less educated LA instead of more educated Santa Monica.

    I could go on, but this was a botch job by the prosecution.

  10. godofwine330 –

    Different standard of guilt/proof in criminal and civil cases. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” for criminal (99.9%) “preponderance of the evidence/balance of probabilities” (arguably 51%, some suggest 60-70%).

  11. Who remembers the Hertz rent a car commercials as OJ ran through the airport. He was probably being chased by the police then too.

  12. I remember being mesmerized by Al Cowling’s ability to stay centered in his lane. Somewhere out there was a very proud driver’s ed instructor.

  13. Elway still hates that “slow moving white Bronco” joke, 20 years later.

  14. Terrible job by prosecutors no doubt, but I’m not sure that jury was going to convict regardless.

    I was good friends with a very educated, bright and engaging man of color from LA. I was floored when he applauded the verdict and claimed the cops must have framed him.

    Relations were so strained that I think the jury viewed it as getting back at the cops.

    First vote 8-2 to acquit. Second vote 10-0 to acquit.

  15. That was great live tv drama, followed by the ’97 north hollywood shootout

  16. 20 years? Wow. I remember watching that chase live from a bar in downtown Chicago. Throwing down pitchers and wings and thinking it was the most surrealistic moment of my life. Which it was (to that point, anyway).

  17. I thought Simpson’s NFL record of most murders by a player would stand forever. I never expected Aaron Hernandez to come along and break the record less than 20 years later.

  18. If Leslie Nielsen had been assigned the case, he wouldn’t have botched the evidence and let a murderer get out of jail for free.
    Naked Gun 4

  19. For those of you too young to remember the late 1960s and the 1970s, OJ (for all of his despicable flaws) was a magnificent athlete. Speed, power, and grace as a RB. It’s hard to believe how good he was and no RB today is even close.

  20. If I crack this case can O.J. sill afford the award money? I’m worried cause I just called the hotline that his attorney set up and there’s an automated message about vacation packages. I guess this deal isn’t being honored any longer? They could have at least said something.

    Maybe I should just invent a new criminal justice system instead, that might be easier anyhow.

  21. Whoever decided to let Marcia Clark and Chris Darden prosecute that case should have went to prison. They were so clearly in over their heads it was pathetic. How you could sit there and watch O.J clearly contort his hand so the glove doesn’t fit an let him get way with it is beyond me.

  22. I never thought about it but OJ is probably the reason we have to put up with those damn Kardashians now. He should be sentenced to life just for that.

  23. Let me ask you this…. had it been Jordan and the Bulls in the finals, would the Finals have still gotten the little screen in the corner or would OJ have?

  24. That verdict really opened my eyes. Basically the jury let a murderer go free because he looked like them and was a football hero. The real mistake was the complete lack of diversity on that jury.

  25. The call on OJ’s last run:

    “He’s at the 15, the 10, the 5….No wait he’s on the 110, the 101, the 134, the 405 freeway…. TOUCHDOWN!”

  26. I was unemployed during much of the trial, so I had an opportunity to watch some pretty crucial moments. The big thing I saw was that defense clearly and effectively proved that the police planted evidence. Photos of his bedroom with nothing, same photo 10 minutes later with bloody socks on the floor, all after OJ was in custody. No one gets convicted when that crap happens, as well they shouldn’t. All the evidence is suspect after that. LAPD really embarrassed themselves.

  27. I had a friend that had to pay when she lost a civil case that the standard of guilt warranted that she was guilty, but she wasn’t at all – but that didn’t preclude her from having to shell out $50k she didn’t have.

    Let’s assume for once that he didn’t do it. Say it was a mob hit for the drugs she was getting of whatever. The husband/ex-husband is always the first suspect, often they don’t even LOOK at anyone else.

    If Juice was home alone watching basketball that day he would have no alibi and thus would have been arrested for the crime regardless. If the jury’s decision was the same, not guilty, the civil trial could have ended the same way – guilty. And he would have still had to pay even though he had nothing to do with it.

    How is that not wrong? How is that not improper in every way? In nearly every case, law is won by whomever has the better lawyer, and not whether the person is actually guilty.

  28. This is a prime example of lawyers looking for wins, instead of the truth.

    Money buys ethics where lawyers are concerned. The truth has no merit in our judicial system.

  29. If OJ was selling his stuff under the table — I doubt he was paying his taxes. To date I have not heard about any IRS investigation … it seem like a slam dunk.

    Why hasn’t the IRS started a criminal tax fraud investigation?

  30. I remember that night. I was in college and working at a pizza delivery place.

    It was a record day for the business. Sales outdid those of the Super Bowl, even.

  31. This case was bungled from day one. Combine that with playing the race card to a mostly black jury who was not about to convict this black celebrity,and you have a “not guilty” verdict. It amazes me to this day that the cops just let Cowlings keep on driving. How about setting up a roadblock? It was almost comical,if not for the butchering of two innocent people.

  32. Wasn’t jury selection it was venue (county) selection. Trial went to L.A. instead of Breantwood.

  33. That was also the night Davis Hasselhoff was going to make his big breakout from Baywatch actor to singer. He booked a concert arena and you could watch him sing live on pay per view. He spent a lot of his own fortune to do this. I guess he wanted to prove to the world that he has not just an actor, but multi-talented.

    Hasselhoff is a bit of a joke now, but I guess he really wanted to be taken serious and take his popularity to the next level.

    I didn’t watch it, but read about it years later. Seriously guys…I didn’t watch it.

  34. I think it’s a shame while the real killer is on the loose, OJ is locked up, denying him the chance to track down the offender even if it takes him the rest of his life as he said years ago.

  35. I read that the Bronco used in the famous chase was bought by a LA business man who rents out the vehicle to tourist.

  36. The money, gun, passport & disguise and talk of suicide created a greater impression of guilt than the note. If you are not guilty – why do you want to kill yourself because your wife was murdered? The guy did it and got away with it.

  37. To the guy struggling to understand distinctions in burdens of proof, just know that a 61% perspective on culpability by the jury will win all day long in a civil case — but will result in an acquittal all day long in a criminal matter.

    The varying burdens of proof are a result of laws drafted differently because of distinguishable circumstances. The former results in loss of money. The latter results in loss of liberty. Big difference.

  38. I remember the day well. It was the night of the big 8th grade dance. I remember slow-dancing to ‘Ramble On’ by Led Zep — and this was 1994. What the hell?

    Anyway, I got home from the dance and my brother was watching the chase unfold. I remember asking him what would happen when it got too dark for the cameras to follow OJ. My brother said “you’ll probably still see the flash from his self-imposed gunshot.”

  39. OJ is suing to get his bloody gloves back.

    Just goes to show that if you are going to commit a double murder in this country, it’s going to cost a bundle to get you off.

  40. jimmyt says:
    Jun 17, 2014 8:53 AM
    O.J. was found not guilty because of one man. One very stupid man that was an over-zealous, crooked cop named Mark Fuhrman that wasn’t happy with the true evidence and tried to fabricate even more in order to bag his prey. It all backfired and O.J. walked.

    Truth. Anyone who followed the trial knows this.

  41. When he was found “not guilty” I said …hes to dumb …he will be in trouble again….I wish Vegas had a spread on it !!!!! Hes still guilty…20 years later too!!!!

  42. You have your parenthetical “(allegedly)” misplaced. Hernandez is actually a former Patriots tight end, but as of today he only allegedly killed Lloyd.

  43. What happened to Nicole and Ron Goldman was horrific,and I’ll always believe that O.J. did it. That being said, Seinfeld’s parody of the chase and the trying on of the bra are classics.

  44. Truth. Anyone who followed the trial knows

    You are very wrong my friend. One of the biggest miscarriages of justice ever. So why was the killer never apprehended ….even after all of OJ’S efforts to find him. Please you the verdict YOU wanted, but not the real truth.

  45. To the guy struggling to understand distinctions in burdens of proof, just know that a 61% perspective on culpability by the jury will win all day long in a civil case — but will result in an acquittal all day long in a criminal matter.

    The varying burdens of proof are a result of laws drafted differently because of distinguishable circumstances. The former results in loss of money. The latter results in loss of liberty. Big difference.

  46. If he was found guilty and got the electric chair the headline could read The Juice gets Juiced. Now with the dumb burglary rap the headline is the Juice gets squeezed. As long as he’s in jail I think I’ll have another vodka and O.J.

  47. How stupid does one have to be not to realize that trying on gloves over top a pair of rubber gloves is not going to fit. SMH

  48. You all want him removed from the hall of fame, but you want Ray Lewis in there?

    Talk about a bunch of hypocrites, smdh.

  49. I do still have my comic book about this, once side is OJ’s story, the other side is apparently what would be Nicole’s story.

    I also have a book about OJ when he played for the Bills, that’s autographed.

    And I just found a couple sports illustrated’s with him on the cover before it happened.

    I have a book “OJ case: A to Z,” I was obsessed with this because he was a former Buffalo Bills player I grew up watching and rooting for. We even met the guy a couple times…I don’t remember it.

    Crazy story. I’ll never forget watching that. And to this day I still love OJ Simpson the football player, but I despise the person.

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