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Rodney Glen King (April 2, 1965 – June 17, 2012) was an African American man who was a victim of police brutality. On March 3, 1991, he was beaten by officers of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) during his arrest, after a high speed pursuit for driving while intoxicated on the I-210. An uninvolved resident, George Holliday, saw and filmed the incident from his nearby balcony and sent the footage to local news station KTLA. The footage showed the unarmed King on the ground being beaten after initially evading arrest. The incident was covered by news media around the world and caused a public furor.
Rodney Glen King
(1965-04-02)April 2, 1965
Sacramento, California, U.S.
|Died||June 17, 2012(2012-06-17) (aged 47)|
Rialto, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills|
|Known for||Victim of a police brutality case that led to public protests, riots, and police reform|
|Notable work||The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption|
(m. 1985; div. 1988)
(m. 1989; div. 1996)
(2010–2012; his death)
At a press conference, Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates announced that the four officers involved would be disciplined for use of excessive force and that three would face criminal charges. The LAPD initially charged King with "felony evading", but later dropped the charge. On his release, King spoke to reporters from his wheelchair, with his injuries evident: a broken right leg in a cast, his face badly cut and swollen, bruises on his body, and a burn area to his chest where he had been jolted with a stun gun. He described how he had knelt, spread his hands out, then slowly tried to move so as not to make any "stupid moves", being hit across the face by a billy club, and shocked. He said he was scared for his life as they drew guns on him.
Four officers were eventually tried on charges of use of excessive force. Of these, three were acquitted; the jury failed to reach a verdict on one charge for the fourth. Within hours of the acquittals, the 1992 Los Angeles riots started, sparked by outrage among racial minorities over the trial's verdict and related, longstanding social issues, overlaid with tensions between the African American and Korean American communities. The rioting lasted six days and killed 63 people, with 2,383 more injured; it ended only after the California Army National Guard, the Army, and the Marine Corps provided reinforcements to re-establish control. King advocated for a peaceful end to the conflict.
The federal government prosecuted a separate civil rights case, obtaining grand jury indictments of the four officers for violations of King's civil rights. Their trial in a federal district court ended in April 1993, with two of the officers being found guilty and sentenced to serve prison terms. The other two were acquitted of the charges. In a separate civil lawsuit in 1994, a jury found the City of Los Angeles liable and awarded King $3.8 million in damages.