LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A photojournalist who had been covering the LAPD SWAT team during the first half of 1994 discussed with CBS2 what it was like to be the only journalist inside the home of O.J. Simpson during the infamous Bronco chase 20 years ago.
Time/Life photojournalist Roger Sandler, assigned to an LAPD SWAT team, was at police headquarters when the chase started. He was given permission to go with the teams to Simpson’s home in Brentwood.
“I told the commander when I was downtown and they were about to deploy, that this is what I’m there for,” Sandler said. “I’m there for moments like this.”
Upon arriving at the home, while Simpson himself was on the freeways of LA, in the back of a white Bronco, Sandler captures images of officers checking the playhouse, corralling the family dogs, and SWAT team members suiting up outside the house.
A mere 10 minutes later, the Bronco pulled up to the home, as Sandler was in the hallway, next to a police marksman.
“We all saw the gun not to his head but to under his chin,” Sandler recalled. “And actually, had he moved that gun what we estimate to be 3-5 inches, there would have been no ‘trial of the century’, no ‘dream team’. The SWAT members were authorized to shoot to kill.”
Simpson’s friend, A.C. Green, who had driven the Bronco through the police pursuit, was said to be so emotional, so animated, that there were several times Sandler expected the standoff to escalate.
“The rest of the negotiations took place with the SWAT negotiator in Simpson’s kitchen, and on the wall was mounted a television, and you could actually see the aerial shot of the Bronco in the driveway,” Sandler said.
After an hour of negotiating, Simpson surrendered.
Sandler then captured a shot of four officers, escorting Simpson into the back of a police vehicle.
“They had asked me not to shoot any more, but I knew I had to get him in cuffs,” Sandler said. “People afterwards are really happy they’ve got the pictures.”
Sandler would go on to cover the case throughout the trial.