Twenty years ago O.J. Simpson stole the national spotlight

By Ian Sacks,

The Chase – O.J. Simpson, a white Ford Bronco, the Los Angeles Police and 95 million viewers. Twenty years ago this scene captivated the nation like little else has before or since.

Simpson, a Heisman Trophy winner at USC and top draft pick by the Buffalo Bills, took the ride of his life on June 17, 1994, and the nation witnessed it.
Five days earlier, Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, a friend, were stabbed to death.

Simpson, who had been in Chicago at the time of the slayings was ordered to return to Los Angeles. When the police carried out their investigation of Simpson, who was believed to be a suspect, they found blood that matched Nicole’s in his driveway.

On the morning of June 17, the Los Angeles Police Department informed Simpson’s lawyer, Robert Shapiro, that Simpson was being charged with two accounts of murder and must surrender himself by 11 a.m. local time.

When the police went to get Simpson from Al Cowling’s house (a former teammate and longtime friend), they found that Simpson had escaped with Cowling. The LAPD announced that Simpson was a fugitive of justice.

“I'll never forget the moment the DA announced that O.J. Simpson was a fugitive of the law,” ESPN’s. J.A. Adande said. “It was so dramatic, like something out of a movie. The story had grown so much so fast. The first report of a double-murder involving the ex-wife of O.J. Simpson received a tiny headline and just a couple of paragraphs deep inside The New York Times. Within a few days the New York Post -- never one to allow the legal process to unfold at its own crawling pace -- pieced together some evidence from police department leaks and splashed'"Bloody Trail of Guilt' across its front page. Now here was the district attorney, saying Simpson was wanted for murder and was on the run. It was a stunning development.”

At roughly 5 p.m. PT, Simpson was spotted with Cowling’s white Bronco. The police arrived and began to give chase. Having contact with Cowling and Simpson via cell phone, the police learned the Simpson was holding a gun to his head and threatening suicide.

As this was going on, game five in the NBA Finals was being played in New York, and the extent to which it would be broadcast on NBC was highly in question.

Prior to going on the air, the announcers were advised to "Do the game, but be ready for anything,” according to FOX Sports.

The chase led to Simpson’s house, where he finally gave himself up to the authorities.

On Oct. 3, 1995, a jury declared Simpson not guilty of the two murders. More than 100 million people tuned in to hear this verdict.

image via Dara Kushner/INFGoff.com

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