25 years later, cameraman who filmed the O.J. Simpson Bronco chase calls it "pretty historical"

By Brian Pascus

/ CBS News

O.J. Simpson Bronco chase, 25 years later

Twenty-five years ago today, Americans were riveted by the real-life drama unfolding on their TV screens as O.J. Simpson led police on a slow-speed chase in a white Bronco. For anyone alive at the time, it was one of the more memorable moments in recent American history. For Jeff Mailes, a retired KCAL photographer, it was an unforgettable event, as he was the cameraman in the helicopter who filmed the LAPD car chase of an NFL legend wanted for murder.

"It went from local to who-knows-where around the world," Mailes said on CBSN on Monday. "It felt pretty historical."

On June 17, 1994, O.J. Simpson, an NFL hall of fame running back turned film and television personality, fled in a white Ford Bronco SUV after having been served the arrest warrants for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. Instead of turning himself in, Simpson took off through the highways of Los Angeles in an attempt to elude police. Inside the car, Simpson held a gun to his head while his friend and former teammate, Al Cowlings, drove the Bronco.

On June 17, 1994, a white Ford Bronco, driven by Al Cowlings and carrying O.J. Simpson, is trailed by Los Angeles police cars as it travels on a freeway. Simpson had just been charged with the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. AP Photo/Joseph Villarin

"This A.C. I have O.J. in the car. I'm coming up the Five freeway," Cowlings said on a cellphone call from the Bronco that day. "You gotta tell the police to back off. He's still alive, but he's got a gun to his head."

Trending News

Over the next hour and half and 60 miles of Southern California freeways, as crowds of people gathered on overpasses and a pack of police cruisers followed close behind, Simpson and Cowlings took the nation on chase it will never forget. Jeff Mailes says capturing those memorable images from a helicopter was far from easy.

"It was a challenge," Mailes said. "It was very busy, very hectic, but the pilot and I had to remain focused and just stay on the pursuit. Keep that Bronco on the viewfinder and create the best images we could."

Mailes, like many, did not initially expect coverage of the car chase to draw the attention it did. But the police pursuit garnered worldwide attention, with Mailes telling CBSN that he later learned 95 million people watched the coverage live on CNN.

"I was making sure that I didn't mess up the images because we were live on KCAL local in Los Angeles, and then I got a radio call that said, 'Keep the picture steady, keep it going, because we're going to punch a button and put you live on CNN.' And that lasted for an hour and 27 minutes," Mailes said.

When it was finally over, Simpson eventually turned himself into police, after having been driven to his home in Brentwood, California by Cowlings. Simpson was charged with murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman but acquitted by a jury in a 1995 trial regarded as one of the major media events of its time. Simpson was found liable for the deaths in a civil trial in 1997. He later served nine years in prison for his role in a botched 2007 hotel-room heist in Las Vegas.

First published on June 17, 2019 / 3:25 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

O.J. Simpson bronco chase

Plastic pollution continues to worsen despite efforts to address the problem

Is recycling an adequate solution for plastic waste? Some experts now think a far more drastic response is needed

4M ago

Cameraman looks back on O.J. Simpson Bronco chase

Jeff Mailes was the cameraman who filmed the white Ford Bronco car chase for KCAL TV

6M ago

Taylor Swift releases star-studded "You Need to Calm Down" video

"The Queer Eye" guys, "RuPaul's Drag Race" stars, Ciara and Ryan Reynolds are just a few of the people who appear in the video

45M ago

Parkland survivor says Harvard admission was rescinded

Leaked screenshots showed him reportedly using the N-word and writing, "Kill all the F***ING JEWS"

updated 4M ago

Friend of slain former Arkansas senator charged with murder

Former communications director tells CBS News Linda Collins-Smith was "good friends" with woman charged in her death

1H ago

The "Win" Test: Who can convince Democrats they can beat Trump?

In a year when Democrats seem focused on electability, a key test for candidates will be convincing voters they are up to the task of beating President trump

1H ago

Trump hopes Congress gets his "financial statement" eventually

President Trump is fighting against the release of his financial records in court

2H ago

Trump rebukes Mick Mulvaney for coughing during interview

The president's chief-of-staff could be heard coughing during Trump's ABC News interview

3H ago

California considers adopting part of Trump's tax law

The state is looking to expand the state's earned income tax credit

4H ago

Supreme Court avoids lesbian wedding cake dispute

The justices' action keeps the high-profile case off the court's election-year calendar and orders state judges to take a new look at the dispute

5H ago

Pakistan claims women trafficked into prostitution in China

Evidence is growing that hundreds of women and girls are sold into prostitution in China

2H ago

Mohammed Morsi, ousted Egyptian president, dies in court

The former president had been imprisoned since a military coup in 2013

1H ago

Powerful earthquake hits China; USGS warns casualties possible

The U.S. Geological Survey says a strong earthquake has hit Sichuan province in southwestern China

updated 25M ago

France allegedly downplayed World Cup security: "It's just the women"

Some U.S. organizers told CBS News that French authorities allegedly made comments like, "It's not the real World Cup … it's just the women"

3H ago

Watch: Toronto Raptors parade live stream

The Toronto Raptors are celebrating their 2019 NBA championship

3H ago

Taylor Swift releases star-studded "You Need to Calm Down" video

"The Queer Eye" guys, "RuPaul's Drag Race" stars, Ciara and Ryan Reynolds are just a few of the people who appear in the video

45M ago

Highest-grossing movies of all time, ranked

What's the highest-grossing movie of all time? It might be one of your favorites

Jun 4 27 photos

James Corden previews celebrity dodgeball game with Michelle Obama

The match between Team U.K., led by Corden, and Team USA, led by Michelle Obama, will air Monday night

1H ago

The tree that inspired Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax" has fallen over

Dr. Seuss was inspired by a Monterey Cypress to create the fictionalized "Truffula trees" in "The Lorax"

2H ago

O.J. Simpson gets on Twitter, addresses rumors

In one tweet, Simpson said he wanted to set the record straight on the Khloe Kardashian rumors: "She's not mine."

2H ago

Elon Musk says he's "deleted" his Twitter account

Musk's account is still listed as active, however, and he changed his display name to "Daddy DotCom" on Father's Day

3H ago

Why Facebook is getting into blockchain

In a line: Money, more money, different kinds of money, and, oh, yes, ever more data on its massive bank of users

3H ago

New software designed to help media detect deepfakes

An altered video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that falsely showed her slurring her words has been viewed more than 3 million times

5H ago

Mining lessons from the blockbuster game Minecraft

One of the bestselling video games of all time has no guns or blood, just chunky building blocks – a virtual Lego universe that has found its way into classrooms

Jun 16

From deepfake to "cheap fake," it's hard to tell what's real online

Cybersecurity experts are concerned that because AI has never been cheaper or easier to use, deepfake videos will be deployed by a diverse set of hackers during the 2020 election

Jun 13

NASA to land 1st woman on moon as part of Artemis mission

NASA's project aims to bring human beings back to the moon by 2024

19H ago

40,000-year-old wolf's head found in Siberia permafrost

Ice Age beast was between the ages of 2 and 4 when it died and was preserved in the permafrost

Jun 14

Number of dolphin deaths triple in Gulf of Mexico

NOAA scientists say 98% of the dolphins that stranded themselves along the Gulf Coast have died

Jun 14

NASA spots "Star Trek" Starfleet logo on Mars

Hopefully, it finds some aliens sporting Vulcan salutes next

Jun 14

Nature up close: Wildlife and the story behind "Taco Bell's Cannon"

Judy Lehmberg explains how a misunderstanding by this classical musical newbie relates to imagery of animals on an unspoiled Earth

Jun 13

Pillsbury flour among recalled brands in multistate E. coli outbreak

Action by owner Hometown Food action involves about 4,620 cases of product tied to Archer Daniels Midland mill in Buffalo, New York

4H ago

Study: Cosmetic products send kids to E.R. every 2 hours

The study was conducted by the Center for Injury Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital

5H ago

Report urges travelers to get MMR vaccine due to European outbreak

According to data from the World Health Organization, 41,000 measles cases were reported from January to June 2018 across 53 European countries

3H ago

Firefighters battle occupational cancer

Since 2002, almost 2 out of 3 firefighters who died in the line of duty died of cancer, as today's fires produce an ever-more toxic brew of chemicals, yet many sickened first responders are being denied workers' comp benefits

Jun 16

Patients skipping prescriptions as prices rise

When Maryanne Perry lost her health insurance coverage, she discovered a $50 copay would jump to $1,000 a month

Jun 14

Plastic pollution continues to worsen despite efforts to address the problem

Is recycling an adequate solution for plastic waste? Some experts now think a far more drastic response is needed

4M ago

Products that could get pricier if China tariffs kick in

Companies ranging from Best Buy and Kenneth Cole to Hallmark and fireworks makers say levies will punish consumers

49M ago

Mastercard to allow transgender people to use chosen name

Some transgender customers report trouble when showing an ID with a name or gender that doesn't match their appearance

2H ago

Elon Musk says he's "deleted" his Twitter account

Musk's account is still listed as active, however, and he changed his display name to "Daddy DotCom" on Father's Day

3H ago

Why Facebook is getting into blockchain

In a line: Money, more money, different kinds of money, and, oh, yes, ever more data on its massive bank of users

3H ago

Cameraman looks back on O.J. Simpson Bronco chase

Jeff Mailes was the cameraman who filmed the white Ford Bronco car chase for KCAL TV

6M ago

O.J. Simpson Bronco chase, 25 years later

Twenty-five years ago today, Jeff Mailes was in the KCAL 9 helicopter following O.J. Simpson's white Ford Bronco through the Los Angeles freeways. Mailes spoke to CBSN about his experience and his thoughts on the chase a quarter-century later.

1H ago 06:52

Friend of slain former Arkansas senator charged with murder

Former communications director tells CBS News Linda Collins-Smith was "good friends" with woman charged in her death

1H ago

Texas pastor charged with sex abuse of teen

Stephen Bratton has been charged with repeatedly molesting a teenage family member

3H ago

Several people shot, 1 fatally at Philadelphia graduation party

Police say all victims were in their teens and 20's and no arrests have been made

8H ago

NASA to land 1st woman on moon as part of Artemis mission

NASA's project aims to bring human beings back to the moon by 2024

19H ago

NASA spots "Star Trek" Starfleet logo on Mars

Hopefully, it finds some aliens sporting Vulcan salutes next

Jun 14

Earth approaching "meteor swarm" eyed in past impact

Scientists hope to study the Taurid meteor shower closely, in hopes of better predicting the risk of a future impact

Jun 12

SpaceX launches 3 Earth-observation satellites

The three Radarsat satellites will monitor resources and the effects of climate change across Canada

Jun 12

Jupiter's largest moons visible with binoculars in June

NASA has a message for space lovers this month: Look up

Jun 11

Photographer Dave Engledow, the "World's Best Father"

He calls himself the "World's Best Father," and he's got the pictures of himself and his daughter, Alice, to prove it

Jun 16 16 photos

Forbes: World's top 20 billionaires

Forbes has updated their billionaires list, detailing the richest people around the world.

Jun 13 21 photos

Tony Awards 2019: Red carpet looks from your favorite stars

See Broadway stars walk the red carpet at Radio City Music Hall in New York City at the 73rd Annual Tony Awards

Jun 9 39 photos

Jayme Closs case: Recently released evidence photos

At Jake Patterson's sentencing hearing, prosecutors showed a select few evidence photos to the court and asked that Patterson be sentenced to life in prison for the murders of Jayme Closs' parents and the 13-year-old's kidnapping

Jun 8 14 photos

Summer music 2019

It's summertime – time for music at festivals and venues across the country

Jun 8 58 photos

Popular

NBA offseason off to drama-filled start

The Toronto Raptors held their championship parade Monday after winning their first NBA Finals. And superstar Anthony Davis has been traded from the New Orleans Pelicans to the L.A. Lakers, a blockbuster deal that kicks off what's expected to be a busy offseason. Bill Reiter, host of "Reiter's Block" on CBS Sports HQ, joined CBSN to discuss the latest developments.

updated 10M ago 07:06

O.J. Simpson Bronco chase, 25 years later

Twenty-five years ago today, Jeff Mailes was in the KCAL 9 helicopter following O.J. Simpson's white Ford Bronco through the Los Angeles freeways. Mailes spoke to CBSN about his experience and his thoughts on the chase a quarter-century later.

1H ago 06:52

Gloria Vanderbilt dies at 95

Heiress and fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt has died. The mother of "60 Minutes" contributor and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper was 95 years old. Marc Liverman takes a look back at her life and legacy.

1H ago 01:34

Fmr. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi dies

Egypt's former president, Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who rose to office in the country's first free elections in 2012 and was ousted a year later by the military, has died. He was 67.

1H ago 00:34

NYT: U.S. targets Russia power grid

A report in The New York Times says the U.S. is escalating its cyber responses to Russia by targeting its power grid. The report highlights how the U.S. military may be acting to counter Moscow's aggression in cyberspace. CBS News intelligence and national security reporter Olivia Gazis joins CBSN to discuss the report.

2H ago 06:22