Rodney King dead at 47
posted at 12:56 pm on June 17, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
Rodney King, a man became the poster child for claims of real and perceived police brutality against blacks, has died.
King achieved a modicum of fame in 1991, when a bystander videotaped his beatdown by Los Angeles police who had stopped him for speeding after a high-speed chase.
Four LAPD officers were tried in on charges of using excessive force. Three were acquitted and the jury failed to reach a verdict for the fourth. The announcement of the acquittals in April of 1992 sparked six days of bloody rioting in South Central Los Angeles and also launched King’s second 15 minutes of fame, when he appeared on camera and famously urged, “Can’t we all just get along?”
The answer was an unequivocal no. By the time the LA Police Department and National Guard had managed to restore order, 53 people lay dead, thousands more were injured, and property damages—mostly from looting and arson—exceeded $1 billion.
In 1993, the U.S. Justice Department reopened the investigation of the King beating and obtained an indictment of violations of federal civil rights against the four officers. A guilty verdict was returned and two of the officers who had taken part in the assault were each sentenced to 32 months in prison.
The following year, King filed a civil suit against the City of Los Angeles and received $3.8 million in damages. In the interim period, he was arrested twice, once for hit and run and a second time for speeding while intoxicated.
From 1994 through the first decade of the twenty-first century, King maintained a low profile. In April of 2012, the Los Angeles Times caught up with him and ran a brief “where are they now” profile, which noted that he was jobless and had squandered the last of his sizable cash award.
According to the website TMZ, which broke the story of King’s death, he was found at the bottom of the swimming pool at his home in Rialto, east of Los Angeles, at 5:25 a.m. on Sunday. Authorities attempted to resuscitate him but to no avail. He was pronounced dead at 6:11 a.m.
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