Rodney King, key figure in 1991 police brutality case, dead at 47


by By Leezel Tanglao / ABC News

Posted on June 17, 2012 at 6:33 PM

Updated Sunday, Jun 17 at 11:17 PM

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(ABC News) -- Rodney King, the man who was at the center of the Los Angeles police brutality case that later sparked the Los Angeles riots has died. He was 47.

Suzanne Wickman, a representative for King confirmed to KABC that Rodney King passed away Sunday.

King's fiancee found him at the bottom the swimming pool at his home in Rialto, Calif., at around 5:25 a.m. Sunday.

She called 911, but when police and paramedics arrived they were unable to revive him.

"She did try to save him. However, she is not a good swimmer and chose to dial 911 and call the police department," said Capt. Randy Deanda with the Rialto Police Department told ABC station KABC-TV in Los Angeles.

He was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, where he was pronounced dead at 6:11 a.m., KABC-TV reported.

There were no signs of foul play, police said, and the San Bernardino County Coroner's Office will conduct toxicology tests on King as they attempt to determine cause of death.

King was beaten by the Los Angeles Police Department following a 1991 DUI traffic stop. The violent beating, during which four cops hit and kicked King more than 50 times, was filmed by a man who saw the incident from his home.

The tape was given to a Los Angeles TV station, and quickly became a national phenomenon.

The case came to trial in 1992, but the white policemen involved in King's beating were acquitted, igniting deadly riots in Los Angeles.

King made this famous plea for peace following the acquittal: "I just want to say -- can we all get along? Can we get along?"

The riots left more than 50 people dead and caused about $1 billion in damage.

SLIDESHOW: A look back at the Los Angeles riots

King received a $3.8 million settlement from the city, but that did not set his life on a smooth path. He has said he invested the money badly and lost most of it, and has been arrested numerous times.

He has struggled with substance abuse, and even made an appearance on TV reality show "Celebrity Rehab."

In April, King released his memoir, "The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption."

Earlier this year, reflecting on the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots that made him famous, King said he was still trying to find a way to lead a good life.

"I've learned from all of my mistakes. I am a work in process. I'm constantly working on myself, knowing what my limits are and feeling comfortable with me," King said.

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