Los Angeles News

Autopsy conducted in Rodney King's death

Monday, June 18, 2012
On the 20th anniversary of the L.A. riots, Rodney King, seen here in this photo from April 2012, looks back on the beating and verdict that set off the civil unrest. The Rodney King beating spurred major and long-lasting changes at the Los Angeles Police Department.

An autopsy was performed Monday to determine how Rodney King died.

King's fiancée called 911 after she found him at the bottom of his swimming pool in Rialto on Sunday. She told police she is not a good swimmer and could not pull him out of the pool by herself. Police rushed to King's home and paramedics performed CPR, but King was unresponsive. King died at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. He was 47.

The San Bernardino County Coroner's Office performed an autopsy and toxicology tests to see if King had anything in his system that may have contributed to his death. The results of the autopsy won't be known for several weeks.

King's fiancée told officers that King was a very good swimmer and frequently swam at night. However, police do not suspect foul play in his death and believe it was an accidental drowning.

"There were no signs of any alcohol presence during the investigation, and/or any controlled substances that might indicate that it was involved," said Rialto Police Capt. Randy De Anda.

King's family members, including one of his three daughters, and friends arrived at the home Sunday morning. Many of them said they learned of his death from news reports.

"I turned on the news and I heard, and it was devastating because I know he likes to swim all hours of the night, so I don't know what happened," said King's cousin, Corey Hudson.

Neighbors said King will be missed.

"He used to come over and help my husband with the front yard because he's unable to mow his own grass," said neighbor Dee Landin. "So he'd come over every week and do that without even being asked. And we used to trade tools back and forth, and he was a really nice guy, very kind person."

King became famous after he was beaten by Los Angeles Police Department officers during a 1991 DUI traffic stop.

Three officers involved in the beating were acquitted a year later and a mistrial was declared for another officer, sparking the 1992 Los Angeles riots. The riots lasted for three days, leaving 53 people dead and causing $1 billion in damage.

In the years that followed, King became a symbol for police brutality, but he also struggled with addiction and repeated arrests.

On the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles Riots in March, King looked back on the beating and the verdict that set off the civil unrest. In an interview with ABC7's Marc Brown, King said that "it felt like Armageddon."

"The legacy of that incident was that this police department for the first time had to look itself in the face. It was forced to look itself in the face, go through the process of self-examination," said John Mack of the civilian Los Angeles Police Commission, which oversees the LAPD.

That assessment brought sweeping and lasting changes, including stronger civilian oversight of the LAPD and monitoring of high-risk officers. Complaints that were heard were easier to make, and the department became more diverse to reflect the city.

A community vigil to honor King was held Monday evening in Leimert Park.

Several dozen people attended the event. They chanted King's words asking for peace: "Can we all get along?"

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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