First, read this:
Rodney King, whose videotaped beating by police in 1991 sparked the L.A. riots, was found dead at his California home on Sunday. He was 47.
Police said King’s fiancée discovered him at the bottom of the swimming pool at their Rialto, Calif., home, about 55 miles east of Los Angeles.
Police responded to a call at 5:25 a.m., pulled King out of the pool and attempted CPR, but could not revive him.
King’s representative Suzanne Wickman confirmed to his death to KABC-TV. According to TMZ, King’s fiancée, Cynthia Kelley, told friends King spent the bulk of Saturday drinking and “smoked marijuana at some point,” before she went to went to bed at 2:00 a.m.
The cause of death is unknown, but police are investigating it as a drowning. Rialto Police Capt. Randy DeAnda told CNN there were no preliminary signs of foul play.
King was beaten by four white LAPD officers following a DUI stop on March 3, 1991. Footage captured by an amateur videographer showed the officers hitting King 56 times with wooden batons.
“I just got lucky that night to have the cameras on me,” King said in April, marking the 20th anniversary of the L.A. riots. “When I saw the tape, I was so happy that it was on tape and then looking at it, it was like I was in another body. I felt like I had died in that one, and was just watching it.”
The four officers–Theodore Briseno, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind and Sgt. Stacey Koon–were acquitted of criminal charges, sparking the riots that left 55 people dead. (Koon and Powell were later found guilty of federal civil rights charges and sentenced to 30 months in prison.)
In hindsight, it appears that Rodney King was an example of a soul who could not be saved and was doomed to pass away prematurely due to his own failures instead of being able to live a full life. Even so, he had a few good qualities that society should have done a lot more to nurture, instead of treating him like he was disposable.
There was simply no excuse whatsoever for the beating King received from the cops; they were clearly out of control and lawbreakers themselves. So why were they acquitted at the first trial? One reason was because the jury was all white, a racist practice that was all too common in the South, where blacks would be sent to prison for crimes they did not commit, while guilty whites would be exonerated.
Another issue was the misperception that it is better to have a few corrupt and abusive cops on the beat than too few cops to keep order in society. That is simply wrong; I think I’d rather have no cops at all than ANY cops that are themselves criminals and never held accountable for their misdeeds because such corruption can feed on itself to ruin a whole society from within. The riots that broke out resulted from people seeing lawlessness among the cops and in that courtroom and thus thinking, “If they will not uphold the law and promote justice, why should we?!” No, I do not blame them at all!
Theodore Briseno, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind and Stacey Koon, if they are still alive, should never work for any police force ever again, nor should any cop caught being so abusive. And no jury involved in a case involving a black person and white people should be of one racial makeup!