IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

What happened during O.J. Simpson's car chase — and why everyone remembers it

Days after the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, O.J. Simpson led police on a chase through Los Angeles.

The death of O.J. Simpson has renewed interest in his legacy and the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman that tarnished it.

On social media platforms, many users recalled one specific moment when remembering Simpson: the day he drove down a Los Angeles interstate in a white Ford Bronco while being pursued by police, all captured on live television.

June 12 marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Brown Simpson, O.J. Simpson's ex-wife, and Goldman, her friend. Days after her death, Simpson had drawn the attention of the Los Angeles Police Department, who had grown suspicious of his involvement in the murders.

On June 17, 1994, Simpson was charged with the murders and was expected to turn himself into the police. When Simpson failed to appear at the police station, the Los Angeles Police Department found that Simpson had fled with his former college and pro teammate Al Cowlings. The result was a two-hour police chase after Simpson as he drove in Cowlings’ white Ford Bronco.

Read on for everything we know about the chase.

What happened during the car chase?

According to NBC affiliate KNBC, police slowly pursued Simpson and Cowlings on a 60-mile car chase from Lake Forest to Los Angeles County, ending at his home in the city of Brentwood.

While riding with Simpson in the hot pursuit, Cowlings called the police and notified them that Simpson had a gun to his head and was eager to get to his home.

Earlier that day, his lawyer Robert Kardashian read a letter on TV from Simpson.

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

Tom Lange, an LAPD detective in the murder investigation, spoke to Simpson during the chase and implored him to put down his gun and surrender. 

“You’re going to break somebody’s heart, which is what you’re going to do,” Lange is heard telling Simpson in audio that has since been released and was obtained by NBC News. “Don’t do this. Just toss it, man, come on.

Simpson eventually arrived at his home with Cowlings and remained inside the Bronco for 45 minutes while parked in the driveway.

Sometime around 9 p.m., Simpson exited the SUV and entered his house before being taken into custody.

Why did the chase have such a cultural impact?Dr. Marcus Collins, an author and professor at the University of Michigan who focuses on the impact of culture, tells that the Simpson police chase and subsequent trial simultaneously gathered and divided the country. 

“It was one of those rare moments in time when seemingly the majority of the country is watching the same thing, shoulder to shoulder,” he explains. “What those moments do for us is allow us to speak concurrently and in shorthand because we have all seen it, and that’s all in the air.”

Even in the case of the gruesome murders at the center of the trial, the entire ordeal created a shared experience that brought people together to share in conversations and debate.

“It becomes a currency for our social networks, and we can go to dinner and say, ‘Did you see it?’” Collins said. “‘Of course, you saw.’”

Was Simpson found guilty of the murders?

On Oct. 3, 1995, Simpson was acquitted in the double homicide case, a verdict that remains controversial. However, two years later, according to NBC News, Simpson was found civilly liable in a wrongful death claim for both murders. He was ordered to pay $33 million but the damages were never paid in full.

Goldman's father, Fred Goldman, told NBC News after Simpson died that “it’s just further reminder of Ron being gone all these years.”

“It’s no great loss to the world. It’s a further reminder of Ron’s being gone.”