Rodney King, whose beating by Los Angeles police in 1991 was caught on camera and sparked riots after the acquittal of the four officers involved, was found dead in his swimming pool Sunday, authorities and his fiancee said. He was 47.
Police in Rialto, California, received a 911 call from King’s fiancee, Cynthia Kelly, about 5:25 a.m., said Capt. Randy De Anda. Responding officers found King at the bottom of the pool, removed him and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation until paramedics arrived. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital, police said.
There were no preliminary signs of foul play, De Anda said, and no obvious injuries on King’s body. Police are conducting a drowning investigation, he said, and King’s body would be autopsied.
Kelly — who was a juror in King’s lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles in 1994 — told police King was an “avid swimmer,” but that she was not, De Anda said. She reported the two had just had a conversation and she went inside, but came back out after hearing a splash and saw him at the bottom of the pool.
De Anda said he did not see any drug paraphernalia “or anything that would indicate that Mr. King was intoxicated” at the scene, but a toxicology screen would be performed.
King’s beating after a high-speed car chase and its aftermath forever changed Los Angeles, its police department and the dialogue on race in America.
“I am saddened by the death of Rodney King,” said Bernard Parks, a Los Angeles city councilman who served as LAPD chief from 1997 to 2002. “Although his beating will forever be thought of as one of the ugliest moments in the history of the city of Los Angeles and its police department, the victimization of Mr. King and the circumstances that followed created an atmosphere that allowed LAPD and the city to make historic disciplinary and community-based reforms that have made for a better police department and a better city as a whole.”
“Rodney King was a symbol of civil rights and he represented the anti-police brutality and anti-racial profiling movement of our time,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement. “It was his beating that made America focus on the presence of profiling and police misconduct.”
King was 25 and on parole after a robbery conviction in March 1991. In an interview in 2011, he recalled he had been drinking and was headed home from a friend’s house when he saw a police car following him and panicked, thinking he would be sent back to prison. So he attempted to flee.
“I had a job to go to that Monday, and I knew I was on parole, and I knew I wasn’t supposed to be drinking, and I’m like ‘Oh, my God,’” he told CNN. Source
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