Unlike many of today’s over-the-night celebrities, Rodney King was the man that successfully changed the Los Angeles Police Department. After the beating he got from the L.A. police in 1991, Rodney became a symbol of inter racial tensions in the United States. Police brutality victim Rodney King died at 47 years.
Don’t get me wrong, Rodney King wasn’t a saint. He had quite a troubled life, and King himself confirmed that as he confessed about his drug and alcohol addiction. But in the end, surviving a hell of a beating and being prompted as a symbol of racial tensions in the U.S. is not something that can easily pass by.
Police Captain Randy De Anda with the Rialto, California department, said Rodney King was found dead in a swimming pool this Sunday. His fiancée was the one who found the body and called the police. According to De Anda, the police officers that answered the 911 call tried to resuscitate him after King was pulled out of the water.
Although the San Bernardino County Coroner has to conduct an autopsy to confirm the cause of death, De Anda said “preliminary indications are that this is a drowning with no signs of foul play”.
Rodney King gained his celebrity over a violent and socking episode. Back in 1991, King and some of his friends were involved in a high-speed chase. When the police officers finally caught on to them, King was violently beaten by the officers, while the whole episode was caught on tape. Soon after that the video made it to the networks and sparked controversies as the United States got confronted with a brutal reality.
One year later, the police officers that beat King were cleared of brutality charges. Los Angeles was ravaged by riots and those days remained in the history of the city and the country as one of the bloodiest. 53 people died during the riots and some $1 billion damage was caused. After the riots, police chief Darryl Gates was ousted from the force and two of the officers involved in the King beating were sentenced to prison.
Author Lou Cannon wrote a book about the 1991 and 1992 events. “The King beating and trial set in motion overdue reforms in the LAPD and that had a ripple effect on law enforcement throughout the country” said Cannon.