Rodney King, whose beating by police led to riots, found dead at 47
Rodney King, who came to symbolize racial tensions in the United States after his 1991 beating at the hands of police led to deadly riots in Los Angeles a year later, was found dead in a swimming pool Sunday in Rialto, California, police said. He was 47.
"Preliminary indications are that this is a drowning with no signs of foul play," Rialto police said in a statement. Cops pulled his body from a pool but were unable to resuscitate him.
King was discovered by his fiancee, Cynthia Kelley, Rialto police Captain Randy De Anda said. TMZ, citing anonymous sources, said King had been smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol hours before his death, according to Kelley.
King became known around the world after he and some friends were stopped by Los Angeles police on March 3, 1991, following a high-speed chase. King was beaten by baton-wielding officers while a bystander videotaped them. The video prompted a national debate on police brutality and race relations.
When the officers were cleared of brutality charges a year later, riots broke out in Los Angeles, resulting in 53 deaths and an estimated $1 billion in damage.
During the riots, King made a famous televised appeal for calm, saying: "Can we all get along?"
Two of the officers were later convicted on federal charges of violating King's civil rights and were sentenced to prison.
King wrote a book this year titled "The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption."