In an interview with KNBC from April 27, 2012, Rodney King recalls putting on a reggae hat with dreadlocks to witness firsthand the riots triggered by the not guilty verdicts delivered to the police officers who were caught beating him on video.
Authorities have ordered toxicology tests in the death of Rodney King, but the results won’t be known for several weeks, a sheriff’s spokeswoman told msnbc.com on Monday.
King, the black motorist whose videotaped beating by Los Angeles police officers in 1991 sparked some of the deadliest race riots in U.S. history, was found dead on Sunday. He was 47.
Police in Rialto, Calif., found King's body in a swimming pool after his fiancee called 911, Rialto Police Capt. Randy DeAnda told NBC News. He was transported to Arrowhead Hospital in Colton, where he was pronounced dead at 6:11 a.m. PDT, DeAnda said.
An autopsy was scheduled for Monday, but results won’t be
released today, San Bernardino County Sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller said. Authorities said there were no signs of foul play.
King was beaten by Los Angeles Police Department officers on a dark street on March 3, 1991, after he was stopped for speeding. Four officers hit him more than 50 times, kicked him and shot him with stun guns. A bystander videotaped much of the incident from a distance.
A year later, a California jury acquitted three of the four officers. The jury deadlocked on one of the charges for the fourth officer, Laurence Powell. Three of the officers were white and one Hispanic.
The riots that erupted on April 29, 1992, were among the most lethal in U.S. history. By the time order was restored, more than 50 people had died, nearly 3,000 were injured and thousands of businesses were damaged or destroyed.
In the two decades after he became the central figure in the riots, King was arrested several times, mostly for alcohol-related crimes. He later became a record company executive and a reality TV star, appearing on shows such as "Celebrity Rehab."
Los Angeles police are investigating the apparent drowning of Rodney King, the man whose videotaped beating in 1991 sparked the deadly Los Angeles riots. NBC's Miguel Almaguer reports.
Looking back on that time, King told NBCLosAngeles.com in April, “Some of me wanted to get out there and riot and loot and tear up stuff too, but it just wasn’t the way I was raised.”
When he ventured into the streets during the riots, he wore a reggae hat with dreadlocks so people wouldn’t recognize him.
“It just looked a little bit like the war zone to me, smoke everywhere,” he told the station. “It broke my heart to look at that and to know this is, it’s really all about racial tension, and it’s a man-made problem.”
When King sat down with NBCLosAngeles.com, he was promoting his just-published memoir, "The Riot Within: My Journey From Rebellion to Redemption," which came out around the 20th anniversary of the L.A. riots. According to the biography that accompanied his book, King had three children and was engaged to marry Cynthia Kelley, a juror in the civil suit he brought against the city of Los Angeles.
Nearly a year after the riots, a federal jury convicted two of the police officers of a federal charge of violating King’s civil rights and sentenced them to 30 months in prison. Two other officers were acquitted. King eventually received a $3.8 million settlement from the city, and the case led to sweeping changes in LAPD.
King said he was no longer bitter about what had happened.
“I like to be able to wake up and be able to pray for myself and pray for the world, that’s the most important thing,” he told NBCLosAngeles.com.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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