Rodney King, the African-American motorist, whose March 1991 videotaped brutal beating by the Los Angeles police sparked the worst racial riots in the US history, dies at 47.
King's fiancée, who found his body at the bottom of a swimming pool at the house in early Sunday, called 911 to report the incident, police Lt. Dean Hardin said, the Associated Press reported.
Police officers rushed to the scene and pulled King out of the pool. The unresponsive King was taken to the hospital where, the police said, he was pronounced dead at 06:11 (13:11 GMT).
After his death, African-American civil rights activist Al Sharpton stated, "Rodney King was a symbol of civil rights and he represented the anti-police brutality and anti-racial profiling movement of our time.”
The LA riots started on April 29, 1992 when an all-white Simi Valley jury acquitted four LA Police Department (LAPD) officers of wrongdoing in King’s beating.
Over the course of six days, the unrest spread quickly throughout the city and left at least 53 people dead, about 2,500 injured, and caused over-USD-one-billion property damage.
Following the bloody protests, two of the four police officers were sentenced to two years in prison.
At the time of the riots, police brutality and bigotry was the order of the day for the LAPD, according to representatives of the African-American community.
At 26, King had been imprisoned for robbery. On March 3, 1991, when temporarily released on bail, he was arrested again for refusing to stop his car after overspeeding.
The four police officers who arrested King, brutality kicked him and beat him with electroshock and ordinary batons. Meanwhile, a bystander videotaped the incident from his apartment window. The video rapidly spread and was viewed across the US.
In an April interview with Los Angeles Times
, King said, “People look at me like I should have been like Malcolm X or Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks.”
In other remarks, King pointed to the impacts of his ordeal on police brutality and racial discrimination and noted that unless the LAPD violence had happened against him, Barack Obama would not have been elected as the US president.
King, who suffered permanent injuries and was hobbling for the rest of his life, believed that his image would always signify the police brutality.
He built a swimming pool at his house yard and craved the date of his beating on the bottom of the pool.
In his memoirs tilted “The Riot Within: From Rebellion to Redemption,” King elaborated on the challenges he faced during his life.
In other interviews, he pointed to the fact that he had never managed to find a fix job and that he was broke and in debt despite the advance payment he had received for his book.