(Originally published on 06.18.2012)
Rodney King, the man whose videotaped beating by Los Angeles police officers in March 1991 sparked a national outcry, was found dead Sunday morning at the bottom of his swimming pool.
Before the infamous beating by four cops, King had a history of drug and alcohol abuse as well as several run-ins with the police, but the beating caught on tape made him the national face for racial profiling and police brutality in the 1990s. After a jury acquitted the four officers in 1992, the black community took to the streets in protest of the injustice, sparking the LA Riots, leading to 53 deaths and hundreds of injuries over a six-day period. It was King himself who implored the community to stop the violence two days after the riots began, asking, "Can we all just get along?"
The four police officers were subsequently tried in a federal court for civil rights violations, where two of the four cops were found guilty and sentenced to 32 months in prison.
King suffered numerous injuries due to the beating, including traumatic brain injury, and sued the city of Los Angeles for damages and settled for $3.8 million. King continued to struggle with addiction and discussed the beating and its effect on his life during his time on the reality show "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" in 2008.
Most recently, King commented to the Los Angeles Times on the Trayvon Martin shooting saying, "The horrifying sound of a young black male screaming for his life on a 911 call reminded me of my horrifying scream on a videotape 20 years ago."
King was 47 and is survived by three children. He was engaged to Cynthia Kelly, who discovered him in the pool and called 911. Early police reports state King had alcohol and marijuana in his system, foul play is not suspected.
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