Rodney King, whose beating by police led to 1992 LA race riots, dead at 47
It seemed that the videotape would be the key evidence to a guilty verdict against the officers, whose trial was moved to the predominantly white suburb of Simi Valley, California. Instead, on April 29, 1992, a jury with no black members acquitted three of the officers; a mistrial was declared for a fourth.
Violence erupted immediately, starting in South Los Angeles.
Police, seemingly caught off-guard, were quickly outnumbered by rioters and retreated. As the uprising spread to the city’s Koreatown area, shop owners armed themselves and engaged in running gun battles with looters.
During the riots, a white truck driver named Reginald Denny was pulled by several black men from his cab and beaten almost to death. He required surgery to repair his shattered skull, reset his jaw and put one eye back into its socket.
The police chief, Daryl Gates, came under intense criticism from city officials who said officers were slow to respond to the riots. He was forced to retire. Gates died of cancer in 2010.
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.”
In an interview earlier this year with The Associated Press, King said he was a happy man.