Rodney King, who became known around the world after videotape of his beating at the hands of four LAPD officers in March 1991, was found dead yesterday at the bottom of his swimming pool at his home. Authorities are treating his death as an accident. He was 47.
I believe now, as I did then, that the acquittal of the four officers at trial in April 1992 was a miscarriage of justice. Of course, the riots which resulted were equally a miscarriage of justice resulting in the deaths of 53 people, over two thousand people injured including Reginald Denny whose beating was also captured on videotape. His assailants largely escaped punishment as well. An estimated $1 billion in damage to property was caused over six days. During the riots, King himself appealed for calm famously asking, to no avail, “Can’t we get along?”
Of course, King was no angel, much less a model citizen. King had a great deal of trouble getting along in this world especially when he consumed alcohol. He had brushes with the law both before his beating and after it. Nevertheless, King didn’t deserve what happened to him the night of March 3, 1991. King would later win a civil suit against the City of Los Angeles and two of the four officers were convicted and imprisoned for civil rights violations.
In recent years, King had gone the reality show route appearing in several of Dr. Drew Pinsky’s programs. King made his final public statement back in April when he commented on the Trayvon Martin case. King said he felt fortunate that his attack was captured on videotape.