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Rodney King is an African American who was born in born April 2, 1965 in Sacramento, California.
He became known as a victim of police brutality in 1991. While driving down the 210 freeway in California with a couple friends he was detected speeding by highway patrol officers and a chase insued. When it ended and King was ordered to get out of the vehile, several police officers had arrived and determined that he was trying to resist arrest. Four plioce officers, Stacey Koon, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno and Laurence Powell then tasered King and repeatedly beat him with their batons and kicked him as he lay on the ground. This resulted in King suffering a fractured facial bone, a broken leg, and numerous bruises and lacerations on his face and body. Unknown to any of the officers or King the attack and the beating was caught on video by a private citizen, George Holliday, from his apartment not far from the incident. The video lasts just as long as the beating and show the officers continuously hitting King even after he stopped struggling.
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This video is the 1:16 long tape recorded by This picture: taken shortly after the beating
George Holiday shows the extent of Kings injuries


Trial of the Police Officers
After the beating, the four officers were brought to trial on charges of excessive force and assault. While one of the officers, Sergeant Stacey Koon, did not strike King and had only used a taser, he was charged with "willfully permitting and failing to take action in preventing the assault." Due to press coverage, the location of the trial was changed to Simi Valley, California and the jurors were also changed so that the twelve jurors consisted of ten whites, one Latino, and one Asian. The prosecutor, Terry White, was the only African American present at the trial. Finally on April 29,1992, almost fourteen months after the attack, the jury acquitted three of the officers but disagreed on the charges for Officer Powell.
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The police officers in question (left to right, Laurence Powell, Stacey Koon, Timothy Wind and Theodore Briseno)


The Aftermath of the Trial
The acquittal of the police officers, coupled with the release of the graphic video tape showing King's beating resulted in the Los Angeles riots of 1992. In addition to the verdict, other causes of the outrage were extremely high unemployment in South Central Los Angeles and a long held belief that the LA Police Department engaged in racial profiling and the use of excessive force. The riots started on the evening of Wednesday, April 29, 1992, (the evening of the acquittal), and lasted for six days, peaking in intensity during the second and third days. Finally, the addition of a curfew and the deployment of the National Guard and the Army began to control the situation. On the third day of the rioting, Rodney King made a public plea saying "Can we all just get along? Can we stop making it horrible for the older people and the kids?" However, despite his appeal for calm, when the rioting finally ended, 53 were dead (many of them murdered), 2,383 were injured, more than 7000 fires had been set and 3,100 businesses, homes and shops were damaged resulting in nearly $1 billion in total losses. During these days, LAX airport was forced to cancel flights in and out of the city due to danger and extreme smoke cover. Smog and smoke covered the area for months after. Other riots also took place in cities such as Las Vegas and Atlanta.
Main Players:
  • thousands of rioters and protesters in L.A. (many of them racially motivated)
  • the LAPD
  • the National Guard and Army
  • Rodney King
  • the judicial system
  • the media, who played a huge role in the story and the coverage in the days following the beating and the riots
The two most well-known victims of the events became Reginald Denny and Fidel Lopez who were stripped from their cars while innocently traveling through the riot area and brutally beaten until a good samaritan came to their rescue. These attacks were vividly captured by the media and replayed to millions throughout the world.

This is a video of the news coverage in Los Angeles at the time of the rioting
and the real time events as they happened.



Aftermath
In the end, nobody truely won. Los Angeles was in ruins as rioters had destroyed their own communities and many lives had been lost. However, in the days following the riots, pressure mounted for a retrial of the officers, and federal charges of civil rights violations were brought against the officers. As the first anniversary of the acquittal neared, the city tensely awaited the decision of the federal jury; seven days of deliberations raised fears of further violence in the event of another "not guilty" verdict. in the end howver, two officers – Officer Laurence Powell and Sergeant Stacey Koon – were found guilty, while officers Theodore Briseno and Timothy Wind were acquitted. Koon and Powell both recieved prison sentences and the rioters and Rodney King finally had justice. It came two full years after the original beatings and a year after the rioting. Since then, Rodney King and the Rodney King riots have played a large role in the culture of America. Several groups designed to contol the force used by cops have since been constructed and the longlasting affects of the rioting have had a long term affect on the city of L.A and the country. Racial profiling and police brutality are looked at more seriously and have occured far less than before 1991.