Rodney King was thrust into the public spotlight when a camera captured him being brutally beaten by Los Angeles police in 1991. Four officers involved were acquitted, sparking infamous riots that shut down the city of Los Angeles and created a national controversy.
King was found dead in his swimming pool Sunday. Here is a look back on his life and legacy.
March 3, 1991 – Rodney King is beaten by LAPD officers after a high-speed chase through Los Angeles County. George Holliday videotapes the beating from his apartment balcony.
March 4, 1991 – Holliday delivers the tape to local television station, KTLA.
March 7, 1991 – Rodney King is released without being charged.
March 15, 1991 – Police Sgt. Stacey Koon and officers Laurence Michael Powell, Timothy Wind, and Theodore Briseno are indicted by a Los Angeles grand jury in connection with the beating.
May 10, 1991 – A grand jury refuses to indict 17 officers who stood by at the King beating and did nothing.
November 26, 1991 – Superior Court Judge Stanley Weisberg orders the trial of the four officers charged in the King beating to be moved to Simi Valley.
April 29 1992 – The four white LAPD officers are acquitted of beating King. Riots start at the intersection of Florence and Normandie in South Central Los Angeles. Reginald Denny, a white truck driver, is pulled from his truck and beaten. A news helicopter captures the beating on videotape. California Gov. Pete Wilson declares a state of emergency and calls in National Guard troops.
April 30- May 4, 1992 – Dusk to dawn curfews are enforced in the City and County of Los Angeles.
May 1, 1992 – Rodney King makes an emotional plea for calm, stating, "People, I just want to say, can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it horrible for the older people and the kids?"
August 4, 1992 – A federal grand jury returns indictments against Koon, Powell, Wind, and Briseno on the charge of violating the civil rights of Rodney King.
February 25, 1993 – The trial of the officers begins.
April 16, 1993 – The federal jury convicts Koon and Powell on one charge of violating King's civil rights. Wind and Briseno are found not guilty. No disturbances follow the verdict.
August 4, 1993 – U.S. District Judge John Davies sentences both Koon and Officer Laurence M. Powell to 30 months in prison for violating King's civil rights. Powell is found guilty of violating King's constitutional right to be free from an arrest made with "unreasonable force." Ranking officer Koon is convicted of permitting the civil rights violation to occur.
April 19, 1994 – The U.S. District Court in Los Angeles awards King $3.8 million in compensatory damages in a civil lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles. King had demanded $56 million, or $1 million for every blow struck by the officers.
June 1, 1994 – Rodney King is awarded $0 in punitive damages in a civil trial against the police officers. He had asked for $15 million.
April 2012 – Rodney King's autobiography, "The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption. Learning How We Can All Get Along," is published.
June 17, 2012 – Rodney King is found dead in his pool in Los Angeles. There are no preliminary signs of foul play, police say, and no obvious injuries on King's body. Police say they are conducting a drowning investigation.
By the numbers
- Fifty-five people died in the Los Angeles riots. 2,000 were injured.
- More than 1,00 buildings were destroyed or damaged causing an estimated loss of $1 billion.
- More than 3,000 disaster loan applications were filed.
- Government assistance awarded totaled $900 million.
- The Holliday video shows King being struck by police batons more than 50 times. More than 20 officers were present at the scene, most from the LAPD.
- Rodney King suffered 11 fractures and other injuries due to the beating.
- More than 9,800 National Guard troops were dispatched to restore order.
- The highest troop presence was on the night of May 3. There were 1,100 Marines, 600 Army soldiers, and 6,500 National Guard troops on patrol.