Just over a month ago, Los Angeles remembered the riots which occurred twenty years ago. This series of riots which took place over six days in the city of Los Angeles left over 2,000 people injured and 55 dead, as well as up to one billion dollars in property damage. The spark that led to these riots was an incident involving police brutality. Known as theRodney King incident, a high speed chase ended in a case of severe beating caught on tape. As they tried to place the intoxicated Rodney King under arrest, he resisted, sending two officers to the ground. They fired a Taser into his back, but then proceeded to beat him with batons and kick him.
Caught on camera by a civilian, the four officers were tried on felony charges, but three were acquitted and the other never convicted. When the public heard that the officers were going to walk free, the now infamous riots began. This past April, the country looked back on the riots and discussed what has changed. Attention also focused on Rodney King, the reluctant symbol of the riots and of police brutality. However, he never wanted this position and has struggled with drug and alcohol abuse before and since the event.
On Sunday June 17th, Rodney King’s story came to a shocking and tragic end. His fiancée discovered him at the bottom of their home’s pool at 5 a.m. in the morning. She immediately called 911, but it was too late to save him when he was pulled out of the water. Until the toxicology test findings are made known, it has not been determined whether or not drugs or alcohol were a factor. The LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck made a poignant statement regarding his passing:“His legacy should not be the struggles and troubles of his personal life but the immensely positive change his existence wrought on this city and it’s Police Department.”