It has been reported by CNN that Rodney King, the man at the center of Los Angeles race riots in 1994 has purportedly drowned at his Los Angeles swimming pool. His body was found by his fiance at about 5.25 am Sunday morning.
When paramedics arrived they desperately tried to revive him to no avail. At this moment it is not understood how long he had been at the bottom of the pool when his fiance, Cynthia Kelly found him. According to his fiance he had been smoking weed and drinking all day long (which paradoxically is how he got himself embroiled in an incident in 1991 which saw his viciously beaten by LAPD officers.
Rodney King first came into cultural prominence after a savage beating he had received in the hands of Los Angeles police in 1991 which led to 3 officers being exonerated in a 1994 trial which only saw one of the officers being disciplined. The outcome of the trial led to city wide riots.
Recalls Rodney King: “I had been drinking and was headed home from a friend’s house when he saw a police car following him and panicked, thinking he would be sent back to prison. So I attempted to flee.
I had a job to go to that Monday, and I knew I was on parole, and I knew I wasn’t supposed to be drinking, and I’m like ‘Oh, my God.”
At the time when officers did catch up to him an altercation led to them striking him up to 50 times with batons as well as using a stun gun on him.
At the time a bystander caught the action on video, which ended up going viral and incited the community to wonder out aloud whether the beating had been racially inspired. It was also later said that the editing of the video had depicted the officers at fault, a later unedited released video raised questions as to who was actually at fault.
In later years, King had several more run-ins with the law, including a 90-day jail stint in 1996 for a hit-and-run involving his wife at the time. On the 20th anniversary of the beating in 2011, he was pulled over and ticketed for a minor traffic violation.
King received a $3.8 million settlement from the city, but said he lost most it to bad investments, among them a hip-hop record label he founded that quickly went broke.
Since the riots of 1994 it is debatable whether race relations have actually improved or if anything deteriorated as tensions remain high as polarities still persist in urban communities.
At present no signs of foul play are suspected in the death of Rodney King.