Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Rodney G. King, 47, Whose '91 Police Beating Led to Los Angeles Riots

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Rodney G. King, 47, Whose '91 Police Beating Led to Los Angeles Riots

Article excerpt

Rodney G. King is linked to the 1992 race riots in Los Angeles. During the violence that left 55 people dead, Mr. King pleaded for calm.

Rodney G. King, whose 1991 videotaped beating by the Los Angeles police became a symbol of continuing racial tensions in the United States and subsequently led to a week of deadly race riots after the officers were acquitted, was found dead Sunday in a swimming pool at the home he shared with his fiancee in Rialto, California. He was 47.

There was no evidence of foul play, the Rialto police said.

Mr. King, whose life was a roller coaster of drug and alcohol abuse, multiple arrests and unwanted celebrity, pleaded for calm during the 1992 riots. More than 55 people were killed and 600 buildings destroyed in the violence.

In a phrase that became part of American culture, he asked at a news conference, "Can we all get along?"

"People look at me like I should have been like Malcolm X or Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks," he told The Los Angeles Times in April, referring to three major figures of the civil rights movement in the United States. "I should have seen life like that and stay out of trouble, and don't do this and don't do that. But it's hard to live up to some people's expectations."

Though Mr. King wrote in a recent memoir that he still drank and used drugs occasionally, he insisted that, with his fiancee, Cynthia Kelley, who had been a juror in a civil suit he brought against the City of Los Angeles, he was on the road to reclaiming his life.

"I realize I will always be the poster child for police brutality," he said, "but I can try to use that as a positive force for healing and restraint."

Mr. King said he was essentially broke, though he said he received an advance for his book, "The Riot Within: My Journey From Rebellion to Redemption," published to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the riots.

He still walked with a limp, and several of his scars were visible. His best outlets for relaxation, he said, were fishing and swimming.

The police in Rialto, 50 miles, or 80 kilometers, east of Los Angeles, said they received an emergency call at 5:25 a.m. Sunday from Ms. Kelley, who reported finding him in the pool that Mr. King had built himself, inscribing the date of his beating and the start of the riots in two tiles. Emergency personnel tried to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital at 6:11 a.m.

Capt. Randy De Anda said that Mr. King had been at the pool throughout the early morning and had been talking to Ms. Kelley, who was in the house at the time. Neighbors reported hearing music, talking and crying before hearing a splash.

A pair of sandals was still sitting next to the pool, visible from a neighbor's backyard. Mr. King had apparently started to build a new fence to keep neighbors from looking in but never completed it. One neighbor said that Mr. King mowed her family's lawn weekly and that she often saw him swimming late at night.

On the night the beating occurred, March 3, 1991, Mr. King had been out on parole on a 1989 robbery conviction. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.