Rodney King

Rodney Glen King (April 2, 1965  June 17, 2012) was an African-American man who was a victim of police brutality. On March 3, 1991, King was beaten by LAPD officers during his arrest, after a high-speed chase, for driving while intoxicated on I-210. An uninvolved individual, George Holliday, filmed the incident from his nearby balcony and sent the footage to local news station KTLA.[2] The footage showed an unarmed King on the ground being beaten after initially evading arrest. The incident was covered by news media around the world and caused a public furor.

Rodney King
King in April 2012
Born
Rodney Glen King

(1965-04-02)April 2, 1965
DiedJune 17, 2012(2012-06-17) (aged 47)
Cause of deathAccidental drowning
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, California, U.S.
Occupation
  • Author
  • activist
Known forVictim of a police brutality case that led to public protests, police reform, and riots.
Notable work
The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption
Spouse(s)
Daneta Lyles
(m. 1985; div. 1988)

Crystal Waters
(m. 1989; div. 1996)
Partner(s)Cynthia Kelley[1]
(2010–2012; his death)
Children3

At a press conference, announcing the four officers involved would be disciplined, and three would face criminal charges, Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates said: "We believe the officers used excessive force taking him into custody. In our review, we find that officers struck him with batons between fifty-three and fifty-six times." The LAPD initially charged King with "felony evading", but later dropped the charge.[3] On his release, he spoke to reporters from his wheelchair, with his injuries evident: a broken right leg in a cast, his face badly cut and swollen, bruises on his body, and a burn area to his chest where he had been jolted with a stun gun. He described how he had knelt, spread his hands out, and slowly tried to move so as not to make any "stupid moves", being hit across the face by a billy club and shocked. He said he was scared for his life as they drew down on him.[4]

Four officers were eventually tried on charges of use of excessive force. Of these, three were acquitted, and the jury failed to reach a verdict on one charge for the fourth. Within hours of the acquittals, the 1992 Los Angeles riots started, sparked by outrage among racial minorities over the trial's verdict and related, longstanding social issues. The rioting lasted six days and killed 63 people, with 2,383 more injured; it ended only after the California Army National Guard, the Army, and the Marine Corps provided reinforcements to re-establish control.

The federal government prosecuted a separate civil rights case, obtaining grand jury indictments of the four officers for violations of King's civil rights. Their trial in a federal district court ended on April 16, 1993, with two of the officers being found guilty and sentenced to serve prison terms. The other two were acquitted of the charges. In a separate civil lawsuit in 1994, a jury found the city of Los Angeles liable and awarded King $3.8 million in damages.