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Coroner: Rodney King in drug 'delirium' when he drowned but death was an accident

Joe Klamar / AFP - Getty Images file

Rodney King speaking with fans before presenting his autobiographical book 'The Riot Within...My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption' in Los Angeles.

Rodney King's death was ruled accidental in an autopsy report released Thursday by the San Bernardino County Coroner's Office, which also noted he had marijuana, cocaine and alcohol in his system.

The report summarized the events leading to his June 17 death at age 47 in his backyard pool in Rialto, Calif.

King "was in a state of drug and alcohol induced delirium," according to the coroner's report.

He "either fell or jumped into the swimming pool," the report said. "The effects of the drugs and alcohol, combined with the subject's heart condition, thus incapacitated, was unable to save himself and drowned."


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King's fiancée, Cynthia Kelley, found him in the deep end of the pool at 5:25 a.m. and called 911. She made several attempts to pull him out of the pool but was unable to save him. He was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center where he died.

Rialto police said the preliminary investigation suggested the drowning was accidental and that there were no signs of trauma or foul play.

Kelley told police that King he had been out all weekend with a male friend, but police said at the time they did not know if King and his friend had been partying all night.

During a press conference announcing the death, police technicians could be seen bringing out a marijuana plant from inside King's home.

LA Riots 20 Years Later

King was an admitted drug addict and alcoholic and told NBCLosAngeles.com in April he had been managing his addictions.

King was remembered during services led by the Rev. Al Sharpton as a "symbol of forgiveness" who bore the scars of his infamous videotaped beating by Los Angeles police officers with dignity.

Sharpton said that King never showed bitterness to the officers who beat him.

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King became famous after his videotaped Lake View Terrace beating by Los Angeles police in 1991 was broadcast worldwide, as were photos of his bloodied and bruised face.

Those images became a national symbol of police brutality.

When four officers charged with felony assault on King were acquitted by a jury with no black members, the verdict sparked a riot that lasted for six days and brought U.S. military presence to patrol LA streets.

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During the unrest, which left more than 50 people dead and caused more than $1 billion in property damage, King famously pleaded for peace by asking, "Can we all get along?"

King's words were embroidered on the lid of his casket, next to a portrait of him.

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