Entries in Rodney King (5)


Rodney King's Drowning Death Ruled Accidental

Jerod Harris/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- Rodney King's death last June has been ruled an accidental drowning.

King, the man whose brutal videotaped beating by Los Angeles police in 1991 touched off one of the worst race riots in U.S. history a year later, was found by his fiancee in a pool at the suburban L.A. home they shared.

At the time of his death, King was engaged to be married to Cynthia Kelly, one of the jurors from his civil trial.  Los Angeles Police said that Kelly tried to save King but he had passed away by the time she tried administering CPR.

It also appears that King's longtime problems with drugs and alcohol may have contributed to his death. The medical examiner said PCP, cocaine, marijuana and alcohol were all found in his body.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rodney King Case Changed Perceptions of Police Brutality

Jerod Harris/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Twenty years after Rodney King pleaded for blacks and whites to "get along," cases like the killing of black Florida teen Trayvon Martin prove that the lessons of King's brutal beating at the hands of Los Angeles police have still not been learned, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and other civil rights leaders said on Sunday.

King, who was found dead Sunday at his California home, emerged as a sort of reluctant, "countercultural hero" after he suffered a savage attack from four LAPD officers and a bystander's video camera captured the violence, Jackson told ABC News.

That videotape, when shared with a Los Angeles TV station, sent shock waves around the world, catapulting police brutality and race relations in the United States to center stage and turning King into a symbol of the bitter conflict.

"It was his beating that made America focus on the presence of profiling and police misconduct," said civil rights advocate Rev. Al Sharpton in a statement.  "History will record that it was Rodney King's beating and his actions that made America deal with the excessive misconduct of law enforcement."

"Rodney King's case was a symbol of police abuse," Sharpton said at a march on Sunday to protest the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy.  "I remember before the tape of Rodney King, we talk about police abuse people thought we were making it up."

Jackson compared King's case, in which his attackers were acquitted, with Martin's case today, in which killer George Zimmerman wasn't initially arrested for shooting Martin, due to Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law.

"We seem not to have learned the lesson of the ugliness of racial profiling and police brutality and all the pain it causes," he said.

The wake of the violent attacks on King and the subsequent L.A. riots in 1992 spurred the resignation of LAPD Chief Daryl Gates and a drastic overhaul of the department, including years of federal oversight to monitor racial profiling and police brutality.

What was once a culture of low morale and a code of silence within a police force that had been scandalized even further by the O.J. Simpson murder trial, was turned on its head under the leadership of former LAPD Chief William Bratton.

His emphasis on community-based policing and crackdowns on excessive use of force brought murders down to just 297 in 2011, the lowest they've been in more than 40 years, according to ABC News affiliate KABC-TV in Los Angeles.

"The culture of the Los Angeles Police Department has been transformed," said Erwin Chemerinsky, a professor and the founding dean of the School of Law at the University of California Irvine, to KABC-TV.

Bratton has since gone on to advise the police forces of other major cities including London, where he now serves as a consultant to police following the city's spate of riots last year.

But 20 years after the 1992 acquittal of the LAPD officers ignited days of deadly riots in Los Angeles, Jackson said the shooting of Trayvon Martin shows that race relations are still far from where they should be.

The NYPD, for example, has come under increasing criticism for its stop-and-frisk program, in which it detained more than than 685,000 people in 2011, the majority of them young blacks and Hispanics, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union.  That's up from about 97,300 stop-and-frisk incidents back in 2002.

Jackson said the persistent present-day bias is also reflected by the 8,000 blacks killed in the United States each year.

"It isn't just the police," he said.  "Our concern now, of course, is too much racially-targeted violence.

"We had a redemptive moment with President Barack Obama's election," Jackson said.  But contrary to King's "resounding appeal for us to get along," he said, "it seems that we're not."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rodney King Dead: Victim in 1991 LAPD Police Brutality Case, Has Died

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  Rodney King, the man who was at the center of the Los Angeles police brutality case that later sparked the Los Angeles riots has died. He was 47.

Suzanne Wickman, a representative for King confirmed to KABC that Rodney King passed away Sunday.

King's fiancee found him at the bottom the swimming pool at his home in Rialto, Calif., at around 5:25 a.m. today.

She called 911, but when police and paramedics arrived they were unable to revive him.

"She did try to save him. However, she is not a good swimmer and chose to dial 911 and call the police department," Capt. Randy Deanda of the Rialto Police Department told ABC station KABC-TV in Los Angeles.

He was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, where he was pronounced dead at 6:11 a.m., KABC-TV reported.

There were no signs of foul play, police said, and the San Bernardino County Coroner's Office will conduct toxicology tests on King as they attempt to determine cause of death.

King was beaten by the Los Angeles Police Department following a 1991 DUI traffic stop. The violent beating, during which four cops hit and kicked King more than 50 times, was filmed by a man who saw the incident from his home.

The tape was given to a Los Angeles TV station, and quickly became a national phenomenon.

The case came to trial in 1992, but the white policemen involved in King's beating were acquitted, igniting deadly riots in Los Angeles.

King made this famous plea for peace following the acquittal: "I just want to say -- can we all get along? Can we get along?"

The riots left more than 50 people dead and caused about $1 billion in damage.

King received a $3.8 million settlement from the city, but that did not set his life on a smooth path. He has said he invested the money badly and lost most of it, and has been arrested numerous times.

He has struggled with substance abuse, and even made an appearance on TV reality show "Celebrity Rehab."

In April, King released his memoir, "The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption."

Earlier this year, reflecting on the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots that made him famous, King said he was still trying to find a way to lead a good life.

"I've learned from all of my mistakes. I am a work in process. I'm constantly working on myself, knowing what my limits are and feeling comfortable with me," King said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rodney King Dead at 47

Eric Pearle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Rodney King has died, ABC News has confirmed. He was 47.

King was made famous in 1991 when a videotape of Los Angeles police officers brutally beating him was broadcast nationwide. The acquittal of the officers the following year sparked deadly riots across Los Angeles. 

The details of his death have not yet been confirmed. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Los Angeles Remembers 20 Year Anniversary of LA Riots 

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The First AME Church of Los Angeles held a special service on Sunday to honor the 20 year anniversary of the L.A. riots, ABC affiliate KABC reports.

The Rev. Al Sharpton spoke at two services at the church that was used as a shelter for evacuees and has since helped people find employment and gain an education.

On April 29, 1992, four police officers were acquitted in the brutal beating of Rodney King, which was videotaped by a bystander the year before and broadcast across the nation. Violence erupted a few hours after the verdict into riots that lasted six days and left 53 people dead and almost 2,000 people injured. Damage to property totaled a billion dollars.

The Rev. John Hunter, the church's pastor, said that the service on Sunday was intended to focus on the repercussions of the riots and how far the city has come since then.

"While we know we've made great progress, certainly Trayvon Martin indicates to us and brings to the conscious of the country that we still have progress to be made," Hunter said.

Volunteers in South Los Angeles planted trees and prepared a vacant lot for a community garden, in the space where a grocery store was destroyed 20 years ago.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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