The following is Chapter Fifteen of the 1997 best-selling book, Evidence Dismissed: The Inside Story of the Police Investigation of O.J. Simpson by LAPD Detectives Tom Lange and Philip Vannatter, as told to investigative journalist Dan E. Moldea (Pocket Books). It reveals the untold story of Detective Lange's dramatic conversation with O.J. Simpson during the infamous Bronco chase on Friday, June 17, 1994.
"I'm begging you"
Now mentally thrashed, Lange stands by his desk watching this debacle unfold on national television. He tries to figure out what his next move will be. He pounds his fist on a stack of papers as crowds of people--stopping their cars and running toward the freeway--begin to form a parade route for Simpson and Cowlings. The number of choppers overhead starts to resemble a film clip from Apocalypse Now.
Vannatter is fed up with the increasingly carnival-like atmosphere. He says to Deputy Chief Bernard Parks, "Chief, we ought to stop this thing! It's turning into a circus! We should put police cars in front of him, and block the freeway, and stop him! This guy's got a gun, and who knows what he's going to do! This is very dangerous! Somebody's going to get killed!"
Parks replies, "Phil, I agree with you. But they have asked to go back to the Rockingham location. And we will have that secured."
Like Vannatter, Lange is concerned that Simpson, who has a gun, could jeopardize not only his own life, but the lives of Al Cowlings, the helicopter pilots overhead, the people stopping along the freeway, and especially the police officers involved in the chase. Lange fears the obvious: What happens to the officers who approach the Bronco if they force it to pull over?
Soon after, Vannatter receives word that twenty-three SWAT officers and four sergeants, headed by Sergeant Michael Albanese, have been deployed and will soon be in place at Simpson's home. The vehicle assault team is en route. Four sniper locations will also be established. A two-man negotiating team, headed by Peter Weireter, and "one full element" of well-trained Metro officers will be waiting inside Simpson's residence.
While Vannatter and Commander Parks discuss the situation, Lange comes to believe that the solution to everything is to get Simpson to throw his gun out of the car. But how can Lange, sitting helplessly in his office at the Robbery/Homicide Division, arrange that?
Suddenly, Lange realizes that he has Simpson's cellular-phone number, which he has obtained from Patti Jo Fairbanks while they were tracking his location through his calls.
Lange calls Simpson's number, but the phone clicks off. He tries again. Another miss.
On Lange's third attempt at about 7:26 p.m., Simpson picks up. 91
Amidst the whining sound of sirens in the background on the phone and the television in front of him, Lange says, "O.J.? O.J.? This is Tom Lange from the police department. Remember me?"
"Yeah, man," Simpson replies. "How are you doing, Tom?"
Lange, who is still watching the Bronco chase on television, just starts talking, hoping to make a personal connection with Simpson, who sounds scared, tired, and/or drugged.
At this point, Lange has only one simple goal: To get Simpson to throw his gun out of the car.
They talk for a few minutes. A couple of detectives, who hear about Lange's contact with Simpson, are already starting to pass him notes, offering advice as to how to keep Simpson on the line and how to keep him talking. "Remind him about his kids. . . . Tell him that his mother wants to see him
again. . . . "
Then Lange's phone goes dead. Simpson has either hung up or is out of his cellular area.
Word quickly spreads around Robbery/Homicide: Lange has reached Simpson. Everyone in the room becomes very quiet; many crowd around Lange's desk. Vannatter, who has been frantically making calls on his own telephone, puts down his receiver. He wants to listen to his partner's side of the conversation.
Lange calls back. Once again, Simpson answers. They continue their conversation until the phone goes dead.
A little nervous, Lange is thinking to himself, "What the hell am I doing in the middle of this?"
As Lange calls again, a technician from the LAPD's sound lab, who has just heard that Lange has reached Simpson, sprints into the office with a tape recorder and a telephone hookup.
This time, just as Simpson answers, the technician switches on the recorder. Once again, the sound of numerous whining sirens is in the background.At this point, 7:57 p.m., Simpson, now parked in his driveway, drops his telephone. Although Lange continues to plead with Simpson to throw out his gun, Simpson is no longer on the other end. However, the line is still open, and the tape picks up much of the tense drama that unfolds:SIMPSON: . . . Just let me get to my house. Please.
LANGE: Okay. We're gonna do that.
SIMPSON: I swear to you, I'll give you me. I'll give you my whole body.
SIMPSON: I just need to get to my house where I lived with Nicole.
LANGE: Okay. We're gonna do that. Just throw the gun out the window.
SIMPSON: I can't do that.
LANGE: We're not gonna bother you. We're gonna let you go up there. Just throw it out the window. Please. You're scaring everybody. [Pause] O.J., you there?
SIMPSON: This is for me. This is not to keep you guys away from me. This is for me.
LANGE: I know that. Nobody's gonna hurt you.
SIMPSON: This is for me.
LANGE: Okay, it's for you. I know that. But do it for--
SIMPSON: This is for me for me. That's all.
LANGE: I know that. I know that. But do it for the kids too, will you?
LANGE: Think of your kids.
LANGE: Please. Just toss it out. Your scaring everybody, man.
SIMPSON: Aw, I'm not gonna hurt anybody, you know that.
LANGE: I know you're not gonna hurt anybody, but--
SIMPSON: But I need it for me.
LANGE: I know you're not, man.
SIMPSON: I'm just, I'm just gonna go with me.
LANGE: Please, you're scaring everybody though. You're scaring them.
SIMPSON: Aw, just tell them I'm all sorry. You can tell them later on today and tomorrow that I was sorry. And that, I, I'm sorry that I did this to the police department.
LANGE: Listen I think you should tell them yourself.
SIMPSON (moaning): aah huh
LANGE: And I don't want to have to tell your kids that.
LANGE: Your kids need you.
SIMPSON: I've already said goodbye to my kids.
LANGE: Listen. No. We're not gonna say goodbye to your kids.
SIMPSON: I already have.
LANGE: You're gonna, you're gonna see them again.
LANGE: You want to see them again. Please. You're scaring us. You're scaring them. Please, man.
SIMPSON: Hey, you've been a good guy to me.
SIMPSON: And let me tell you. I know you're doing your job.
LANGE: I appreciate that.
SIMPSON: You were honest with me right from the beginning, just saying you're doing your job. I know you do a good job.
LANGE: Okay, thank you. But there's a lot of people that love you. Don't throw it all away.
LANGE: Don't throw it all away.
SIMPSON: I can't take this.
LANGE: Oh, yes, you can. Yes you can.
SIMPSON [sobbing]: I can't.
LANGE: You got your whole family out here.
SIMPSON: aah . I can't take this.
LANGE: They love you, man. Don't throw this away.
LANGE: Don't do this. They love you.
LANGE: Don't do it, O.J. It's gonna work itself out.
LANGE: It's gonna work. It's gonna work. You're listening to me. I know you are. And you're thinking about your kids right now, aren't you? Aren't you?
SIMPSON (still moaning): aaaaoh
LANGE: They're thinking about you. They're thinking about you.
LANGE: So is your mother. Your mother loves you. Everybody loves you, don't do this.
LANGE: I know you're thinking.
LANGE: Man, just throw it out the window.
LANGE: And nobody's gonna get hurt.
SIMPSON: I'm the only one that deserves--
LANGE: No you don't deserve that.
SIMPSON: I'm gonna get hurt.
LANGE: You do not deserve to get hurt. You do not deserve to get hurt.
LANGE: Don't do this.
SIMPSON: All I did was love Nicole. That's all I did was love her.
LANGE: I understand.
SIMPSON: I love everybody. I tried to show everybody my whole life that I love everybody.
LANGE: We know that. And everybody loves you.
LANGE: Especially your family. Your mother. Your kids. All your friends. A.C.
LANGE: Everybody does. Don't do this. Just put it down or throw it out the window.
LANGE: And this will all go away. It's gonna be a lot better tomorrow, believe me.
LANGE: Please. We'll let you go up to the house, but we need you to throw it out the window.
SIMPSON: Yeah, yeah
LANGE: We'll let you go up there but we need you to throw the gun out the window. Please.
SIMPSON: aaah, aaah. A.C. will take it from me when I get home.
LANGE: But if you throw it out the window they're not gonna have to do that.
[Sound of sirens ends]
LANGE: Okay? Hello. O. J.? You still there? [To others at RHD:] Lost him under the freeway there.
[Phone rings twice].
LANGE: Ringing again, came back.
[Automated message: We're sorry, you have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no long--]
LANGE: O.J., it's Tom again. How you holding up?
LANGE: Hey, it's gonna be better tomorrow. Get rid of the gun. Toss it. Please.
LANGE: Too many people love you man. Don't give it all up. Don't hurt everybody. You're gonna hurt everybody.
SIMPSON: aah . I'm just gonna . . . leave.
LANGE: No. Don't.
SIMPSON: I'm just gonna go with Nicole. That's all I'm gonna do. That's all I'm trying to do.
LANGE: Hey, listen. Think about everybody else, right?
SIMPSON: I just need somebody on the freeway. I couldn't do it in a field. I went to do it at her grave. I want to do it at my house.
LANGE: You're not gonna do anything. Too many people love you.
LANGE: Your kids. Your mother. Your friends. A.C. Everybody. You've got the whole world. Don't throw it away.
LANGE: Don't throw it away, man. Come on.
[Sound of sirens ends.]
LANGE: O.J.? [To those at RHD:] Help. Lost him again.
LANGE: O.J., it's Tom again. How are you doing?
SIMPSON: Not ba . You just call them at my house. I know that they're all over the place with guns and stuff.
LANGE: They're not gonna do--
SIMPSON: You just let them know I'm not coming there to hurt any of them.
LANGE: Okay. They know that and they don't want to hurt you.
SIMPSON: Okay? It was just the first date I ever had with Nicole. The very first date I ever had with her. The first night we ever went out.
SIMPSON: We went to that house. It was all in shambles. I had just bought it. But that's not, that's where we went.
SIMPSON: It was our first date, first night we were together.
LANGE: Ah haa.
SIMPSON: That's all. And I tried to go to be with her down there at--
SIMPSON: But you wouldn't let me. And I just want to go to, go to my house.
SIMPSON: That's where we were. And that's where we were happy. . . .
LANGE: I like talking to you. Is that all right?
LANGE: Will you keep talking to me?
SIMPSON: aah . Man, you deserve whatever you get.
LANGE: Well, thank you.
SIMPSON: You've been a good guy man.
LANGE: Thanks. . . .
SIMPSON: I know you're just doing your job like you told me.
LANGE: Yes. Yes. And nobody's gonna hurt you either.
SIMPSON: And, and, and, and man, I appreciate it.
SIMPSON: You know? I'll c--
[Sound of sirens ends]
LANGE: You still, are you there? Hello?
LANGE: It's okay, I'm back.
SIMPSON: I'm here. . . .
LANGE: All right. Listen.
SIMPSON: You did your job well.
LANGE: I think you are too, all right?
[Transmission breaking up]
LANGE: You there? Hello? Yeah, I'm losing you a little bit. Hang on the line. I want to talk to you.
SIMPSON: I'm here.
LANGE: Okay, I'm still here. Just getting a little interference here. Can you hear me?
SIMPSON: I am sorry. Okay?
LANGE: That's okay. There's nothing to be sorry about.
LANGE: You're breaking up just a little, but hold on. Don't hang up. Don't hang up. It'll come back.
[Sound of sirens ends]
LANGE: Hello? You there? Hello?
[Phone ringing. Automated message: We're sorry, you have reached ]
LANGE: It's Tom again. You guys are getting close, huh? Hello? I'm losing you. O.J., are you still there? Hello? Juice, you still there? Talk to me. Hello? Hello? Juice? Hello? Hello?
[Phone ringing. Automated message again.]
LANGE: This is Tom again.
SIMPSON: aah, Tom. aah
LANGE: You guys gonna, you going up there, man, or what do you want to do?
[The Bronco goes onto the Sunset Boulevard exit ramp and turns left on Sunset.]
SIMPSON: I'm just pulling up to my house, Tom.
LANGE: You gonna go up there?
LANGE: You gonna go to the house?
SIMPSON: That's where I told you we were . You know, you just let them all know, you let the police know, you let them all know. I wasn't running.
LANGE: I know you weren't running. I know you weren't running.
SIMPSON: I was trying to go, I was trying to go to Nicole's grave.
LANGE: I know you weren't running.
SIMPSON: We went there, and now I ca--
LANGE: I know you weren't, man. But you got everybody scared.
LANGE: You got us all scared with a gun, man.
SIMPSON: aah . And I'm sorry I made the police look bad by not showing up. I didn't mean to do that.
LANGE: No. Hey, we don't care. That's, that's not a problem. You know what, you know what the important thing is here? Is that you don't hurt everybody and break their hearts.
SIMPSON: I'm not going to hurt anybody.
LANGE: You're gonna break somebody's heart, is what you're gonna do.
SIMPSON: I know, if I hurt somebody. I'm not gonna hurt anybody.
LANGE: And I'm, I'm talking your mother and I'm talking your kids. Don't do this.
LANGE: Just toss it man. Come on.
LANGE: Everything's gonna be--
SIMPSON: You know I'm not gonna hurt, you've been around me even the few days you've been around me, and you know I'm not gonna hurt anybody.
LANGE: I know you. That's where you're right, I do know. And you're better than that. You're not gonna do this. You're not gonna do it. A.C. is there with you?
SIMPSON: I'm just gonna hurt me.
LANGE: Just stop. Please, man. And throw it out. Please? Please. So I can talk to you again, all right?
SIMPSON: aaah . . .
LANGE: Please. Hey you want me to beg you? I'm begging you.
SIMPSON: Don't beg me.
LANGE: I'm begging you.
SIMPSON: It's like a bad dream.
LANGE: You want me to beg you?
LANGE: All right. Then do it. Come on.
LANGE: Come on. You're scaring the hell out of those people. They're, they're they're being stupid out there. I can see them on the TV.
LANGE: Come on. Just tell A.C. to pull over, will you?
LANGE: Don't do this to your kids. Don't do this to your mom. Don't do this to everybody who loves you.
LANGE: Come on.
LANGE: Please? Come on.
LANGE: I want to talk to you again.
LANGE: We gotta talk, all right? Man-to-man, all right?
LANGE: Listen, you've been a man all your life.
LANGE: You know, don't stop now, O.J. Don't give in now.
LANGE: Juice! Don't give in now. You've been a man all your life. You're admired. Don't give it up.
LANGE: You're listening to me, and you're thinking. I know you're thinking.
LANGE: You're tired too, aren't you? Huh?
SIMPSON: I'm so tired.
LANGE: I know. I know.
SIMPSON: I just want to be with Nicole.
LANGE: You don't need to be with Nicole. You need to be with your family and with your kids. . . .
LANGE: All right? That doesn't need to be done now. You need your kids and your kids need you. Don't do this to them. You're hurting everybody man.
LANGE: You're being selfish with your kids, man. Don't do it. They love you. And so does everybody else. You're gonna break your mother's heart. Don't do it.
LANGE: All right? Please. Just have A.C. pull over and just toss that gun out and everything's gonna be okay. It's gonna be better tomorrow.
SIMPSON: [Inaudible] He's taking me home.
LANGE: I know he's taking you home. But will you please toss that gun? We're gonna let you go home. But please toss the gun. Because you're gon , you're scaring everybody. Okay?
SIMPSON: I will not point it at anyone.
LANGE: I know you're not gonna point it.
LANGE: But you're still scaring them. How about this? We let you go home, let you pull right inside. All we need to see is that gun come out the window.
SIMPSON: I'm not gonna point it at anyone.
LANGE: I know that man. I know that. But you're scaring them anyway. . . .
SIMPSON: Ooh . I want to [Inaudible].
LANGE: But you're scaring everybody. Just toss it [out] the window and drive right in. Okay?
SIMPSON: Ooh I just want to see my home.
LANGE: You will. You will. You want to see your kids though too, don't you? Huh?
SIMPSON: I've got pictures with me.
LANGE: You've got pictures?
SIMPSON: With me.
LANGE: Okay, but how about the real thing? And your mom? All right?
LANGE: How about the real thing? They need you. Don't do this to them. Don't do this to them.
LANGE: You're gonna break their hearts. They're young yet. Come on!
LANGE: How about Arnelle? Did you think . Have you thought of Arnelle yet?
LANGE: Have you thought of Arnelle yet. She needs you.
LANGE: They all need you, man. Come on. You're gonna break their hearts. Don't do this. Juice?
LANGE: Toss it. And drive right in.
LANGE: Just toss it.
LANGE: Just tell A.C. to toss it.
SIMPSON [as the Bronco turns right off Sunset Boulevard and onto North Rockingham]: aaah. Almost home.
LANGE: Okay. You're gonna get home. But your kids need you. Okay? They want you too. All right? Nobody's gonna hurt you, and you don't want to hurt anybody, right?
SIMPSON: I ain't gonna hurt nobody.
LANGE: I know, I know you're not, man. I know you're not gonna do that. I know you're not. And nobody wants to hurt you, right? Huh? When's the last time you saw the kids?
LANGE: Huh? When did you see the kids last, Juice?
SIMPSON: A.C., pull me in my dri--, driveway.
LANGE: I know, I see you. I see you. Please, toss the gun.
LANGE: Juice, just toss it. Come on man.
LANGE: Just toss it. Please? All right? Juice just, just toss the gun.Seconds later, Lange's phone goes dead. 95[Sounds of frantic inaudible voices.]
COWLINGS [as Simpson oldest son, Jason, rushes the Bronco]: Jason get back! 92
SIMPSON: [Sobbing, still with his gun to his head]
COWLINGS: O.J., please! Don't you get . O.J.! No! No! Don't run away from here!
COWLINGS [hysterically]: O.J.! I'm begging you! Don't do it O.J.! It isn't worth it! For your kids! And, me, O.J.! O.J. don't! Don't! Don't! [Inaudible] Don't just leave, man! Don't make me fi -. They got you, O.J.!
COWLINGS: Please! Listen to me! Listen to me O.J.! Listen to me!
SIMPSON: Fuck off!
COWLINGS: [Inaudible] Please! I beg of you man! O.J. No! No, O.J.! O.J.! O.J.! Think about the babies!
COWLINGS: Hey! They lost their mother O.J.!
COWLINGS: Please, O.J.!
COWLINGS: Please put it down, O.J.! Please lay the gun down!
COWLINGS: O.J. don't do this!
COWLINGS: Think of all of them, O.J.! Right now they can't handle it, O.J., anymore! They can't handle it, man! Don't do it, O.J.!
SIMPSON: They'll be okay.
COWLINGS: O.J.! They [the police] can kill you! You're the Juice, man! Don't make them go over the edge, O.J.! [Inaudible]
SIMPSON: ooh [Brief unintelligible words to Cowlings, then,] I'm not gonna hurt nobody! I'm not gonna hurt Nicole Simpson!
SIMPSON [sobbing heavily, apparently yelling out to the LAPD negotiator]: I'm not gonna hurt you guys!
COWLINGS: No one's going to look down on you! I know you hurt, buddy! I know you're hurting!
SIMPSON: This is all a fucking dream!
SIMPSON [moaning]: Noooh
[Brief inaudible words exchanged between Simpson and Cowlings]
SIMPSON [to LAPD negotiator Pete Weireter, who is situated between the Bronco and Simpson's house]: No. No. . . . Tell them I'm not confused! Tell them I'm not going to hurt anybody!
WEIRETER: What about the gun?
SIMPSON: O.J. is not going to point it at anybody.
COWLINGS: Let me talk to him. Where's his mother? [screaming] Where's his mother?
[Cowlings is taken out of the picture by the police. Simpson is now dealing directly with Weireter.] 93
WEIRETER: O.J., please.
SIMPSON: Tell these guys I ain't gonna hurt nobody. Tell them I'm not gonna hurt nobody. Would you tell them that?
[Simpson listens to Weireter, speaking inaudibly from outside the car.] 94
SIMPSON: Nicole and I did this house together.
[Weireter continues inaudible comments.]
SIMPSON: I want them out of here. I want Arnelle and Jason
[Lange still watches everything unfold on television and continues to plead with Simpson to pick up the telephone. A soft murmur of inaudible conversation goes on for several minutes.]
SIMPSON [shouting out to the police officers]: You guys, I would ne , I would never point anything at you guys! I would never point anything at you guys! Never! Never want to point anything at you guys!
SIMPSON [still shouting out]: No, they don't have to put them down! You don't have to put them down! I just want you to know I would never ever hurt any of you guys! I'd never point anything at you!
As of this moment, all of the information Lange and Vannatter are receiving is coming exclusively from what they are seeing and hearing on television.
Finally, at 8:45 p.m., the light in Cowlings's Bronco goes on and the door opens. Although Simpson, holding framed pictures of his family, is slow to come out, he finally emerges.
Then, after taking a few steps, Simpson collapses into the arms of the waiting police officers.
91. In Jeffrey Toobin's book, The Run of His Life, he wrote on page 108: "At about 7:15 p.m., when A.C. and O.J. were still wending their way to Brentwood, Detective Tom Lange had reached Cowlings on the cellular phone in the Bronco. In their conversation, Cowlings confirmed that he was heading to O.J.'s home and that Simpson remained suicidal."
Toobin is wrong on this point. Lange never spoke with Cowlings during the Bronco chase. Lange called Simpson's cellular phone number, not Cowlings's, and talked directly to Simpson.
92. According to the Metro Division's log, Robert Kardashian managed to get inside Simpson's house during the Bronco chase. When LAPD negotiator Pete Weireter discovered that Simpson and Kardashian were friends, he used a willing Kardashian for background intelligence on Simpson. Also, Kardashian introduced Weireter to Simpson after the Bronco arrived at the North Rockingham estate. According to the log, Weireter's intent was "to have a familiar voice once the [negotiating] process is in place."
With people everywhere outside Simpson's gate, along with all of the black-and-whites and the noise level of the helicopters, the Metro log chronicled that the police "could not have scripted a crazier scenario."
The log added that when Jason Simpson charged the Bronco, "Kardashian immediately ID's Jason as OJ's son. . . . [Jason is] cuffed and secured in the house."
93. According to the official Metro log, the problems with Cowlings--who appeared to be losing control of himself, and, thus, jeopardizing the situation--began moments earlier: "A.C. takes an aggressive role--claims OJ had a gun to his head and is going to commit suicide. From inside--we can see OJ slumped over cradling what appears to be pictures with a revolver under his chin."
Then, negotiator Weireter tried to open negotiations with Simpson via Cowlings. However, Cowlings, according to the log, was "an unwanted third party negotiator. A.C. refused to get close--anticipating his arrest. A.C. walking back/forth appears to be out of control--efforts to temper his behavior while establishing dialogue with O.J. A.C. ultimately becomes part of the background."
94. The official Metro log continued that Weireter, via a second cellular phone in the car, gained "voice to voice with O.J.--issues regarding his safety. Telephonic dialogue with O.J.--regarding his image and safety. [O.J.] requests voice to voice--wanting to see who he was talking to."
95. According to the official Metro Division log, the cellular phone, which negotiators used to communicate with Simpson, also went dead. "A.C. delivers cell phone battery and is out of the picture. Back on the phone--overtures that he wants to surrender. Dialogue regarding the surrendering process. Issues of safety and wanting to surrender in his home. Issues regarding a call to his mother."
The log cites that Simpson had an overwhelming fear for his safety, believing that he could be "swooped upon" by Metro's SWAT team.