Rodney King’s brutal beating by Los Angeles police officers in March of 1991 was an event which garnered international attention and exposed escalating racial tensions in America. The 1992 announcement of the acquittal of three of the four officers charged in King’s beating provided a flashpoint in Los Angeles, sparking six days of rioting where at least 54 people lost their lives and property damage costs reached $1 billion.
Two officers were eventually charged with violating King's civil rights, but the scars and memories still remain. In the 20 years since the riots, Rodney King worked hard to maintain a positive perspective on life after facing struggles with addiction, subsequent run-ins with the LAPD and the weight of being a living historical touchstone for such a violent chapter in Los Angeles’ history. King died at 47 on Sunday. He was found dead at the bottom of a pool in the early morning by his fiancée, who had spoken to him a short time before she heard a splash and rushed outside. Police said they are investigating his death as an accidental drowning. King’s death is being treated as an accidental drowning. Investigators say autopsy results are needed to determine if drugs or alcohol contributed to his death.
Patt Morrison sat down with King at the LA Times Festival of Books on April 21, to talk about the 20th anniversary of the L.A. Riots and how they have affected his life, and how they changed Los Angeles and its people.
A public memorial will be held tonight in King’s honor at Leimert Park in Los Angeles. It begins at 6 p.m.
Rodney King, victim in a police brutality case involving the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) on March 3, 1991; author of "The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption"
Bob Forrest, certified addiction specialist and head counselor and program manager for ‘Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew’; Rodney King was a patient on the show