RIALTO, CALIFORNIA (BNO NEWS) -- Rodney King, the black motorist whose beating by Los Angeles police officers was caught on camera and sparked violent riots after the acquittal of the officers involved, was found dead at his home in Southern California on Sunday morning. He was 47.
Police in Rialto, a city in San Bernardino County and about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, responded to King's home at about 5:25 a.m. local time on Sunday after receiving a call from his fiancee, Cynthia Kelly. They found King at the bottom of his swimming pool when they arrived on scene.
"The officers jumped into the pool and removed him and began CPR with Mr. King," said Captain Randy DeAnda of the Rialto Police Department. "Mr. King was unresponsive. The Rialto Fire Department paramedics arrived on scene and immediately transported him to the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead at about 6:11 this morning."
DeAnda said its detectives are conducting a drowning investigation, but there were no immediate signs of foul play. "There was no obvious sign of injuries to Mr. King," he said. "We will conduct a thorough investigation. We do have our detectives on scene, conducting our investigation."
King's body was later taken to the San Bernardino County Coroner's Office where an autopsy is expected to take place on Monday.
King was thrown into the spotlight in March 1991 when video emerged of his beating by several officers of the Los Angeles Police Department. The California Highway Patrol had attempted to stop King for speeding in the early hours of March 3, but he failed to stop as he was driving under the influence of alcohol and believed this would violate his parole for a previous robbery conviction.
A high-speed chase ensued and came to a stop on a dark street, where Los Angeles Police Department officers ordered him and his two passengers to exit the vehicle and lie face down on the ground. The two passengers complied and were taken into custody without incident, but King initially refused to exit the vehicle and then began to act strange when he emerged from the car, laughing and waving at the police helicopter overhead.
When King grabbed his buttocks, California Highway Patrol officer Melanie Singer thought he was reaching for a weapon, drew her gun and ordered him to the ground. King complied but resisted when officers attempted to arrest him, which resulted in a brutal beating by the LAPD officers involved as others stood by and watched.
Just over a year later, in April 1992, riots broke out across Los Angeles following the acquittal of the four LAPD officers. An incident which normally would have quickly faded from news headlines, the video showing the brutal beating caused anger and quickly made it one of the most discussed incidents in the United States.
King urged those involved in the riots and looting to stop, but the violence continued through May 4 when order was restored. The scale of the riots led to the deployment of some 4,000 National Guard troops in Los Angeles, which remained in the city until late May to prevent new riots from taking place. In all, 53 people were killed and more than 2,000 others were injured, making it one of the worst riots in the history of Los Angeles.
A year later, with mounting public pressure for a retrial of the four officers, LAPD officers Laurence Powell and Stacey Koon were charged and eventually convicted of violating King's civil rights. The other two officers, Theodore Briseno and Timothy Wind, were acquitted. King was awarded $3.8 million in damages from the City of Los Angeles for the attack.
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