Remember Rodney King — whose beating by cops in 1991 ignited one of the worst riots in the history of Los Angeles?
King was found dead today, at age 47.
According to the New York Times, police in Rialto, Calif., said they received a 911 call at 5:25 a.m. Sunday from King’s fiancée, Cynthia Kelley, who reported finding him at the bottom of his swimming pool. King, 47, had been living in Rialto, a small middle-class city, for several years.
Police arrived and removed King’s body from the pool and tried to resuscitate him. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead at 6:11 a.m.
Lt. Dean Hardin of the Rialto police said that officers were investigating the case as a drowning and that there are no signs of foul play. The San Bernardino County coroner’s office will perform an autopsy.
On March 3, 1991, King was driving at over 100 miles per hour when he was pulled over by the Los Angeles police. After he attempted to escape on foot, he was caught by several officers who proceeded to beat him. He was struck with batons and kicked dozens of times, as well as shot with stun guns. He later said that he was running from the police because he was afraid that he would be in violation of his parole on a 1989 robbery conviction.
The next year, after officers involved in the beating were acquitted, angry black rioters rampaged through the streets of L.A., smashing and looting stores, beating passing motorists and setting scores of fires. The riots left 65 dead.
In the two decades since the riots, King has been in and out of jail and rehabilitation centers, mostly for drug and alcohol abuse. He has been arrested multiple times for driving under the influence, and spent short stints in prison in the late 1990s for assaulting his ex-wife and daughter. In recent years he has appeared on the television shows “Celebrity Rehab” and “Sober Living” on VH1.
In April, King published a memoir detailing his struggles, saying in several interviews that he was hopeful, but that he had not been able to find steady work and was essentially broke.
TMZ reports that “sources close to King” said that Cynthia Kelley, King’s fiancée, is telling friends Rodney had been drinking and smoking pot all day Saturday, in the hours leading up to his death.
Kelley went to bed at 2:00 AM, Sunday. She next saw King at around 5:00 AM when she was awoken by him screaming in the backyard, naked and banging on the glass. She called out to him, “What’s wrong, Rodney?”, then went to grab her phone when she heard a big splash. She went to the backyard and discovered him in the bottom of the pool and called police.
H/t FOTM’s beloved moxielouise & Dennis