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Rodney King death: Toxicology tests, autopsy planned by coroner

June 18, 2012 |  9:44 am

 

An autopsy on the body of Rodney King will be conducted Monday morning, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner.

Coroner’s spokeswoman Jody Miller said toxicology tests will be performed, which is routine for an accidental death. Results will not be available for six to eight weeks.

Early Sunday morning, King was found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool in Rialto. Authorities say there was no evidence of foul play and are investigating the 47-year-old's death as an accidental drowning.

PHOTOS: Rodney King | 1965- 2012

King's fiancee, Cynthia Kelley, discovered him around 5 a.m., authorities said. They said she told investigators that she had been talking to him intermittently through a sliding glass door. At some point, authorities reported, she heard a splash, and ran out to find King submerged at the deep end of the pool.

Kelley said she could not swim well, so she called 911, officials said. When police pulled King's body out of the water, he showed no signs of life, they said.

King became a symbol to many of police brutality and the troubled relations between the Los Angeles Police Department and minority residents after his 1991 beating at the hands of police led to deadly riots in Los Angeles in 1992. He was eventually awarded a $3.8-million settlement, but the money and fame brought him little solace. He had repeated run-ins with the law and as of April said he was broke.

VIDEO: Rodney King beating

"I sometimes feel like I'm caught in a vise. Some people feel like I'm some kind of hero," he told The Times earlier this year. "Others hate me. They say I deserved it. Other people, I can hear them mocking me for when I called for an end to the destruction, like I'm a fool for believing in peace."

King had long struggled with drugs and alcohol. He called himself a recovering addict but had not stopped drinking, and possessed a doctor's clearance for medical marijuana. King last year appeared on VH1’s "Celebrity Rehab," trying to tackle his fight with alcoholism.

King was drunk and unarmed when he was pulled over for speeding in 1991 by LAPD officers and beaten.

PHOTOS: Notable deaths of 2012

The incident was captured on video by a civilian bystander, and the recording became an instant international sensation. Four of the officers were tried for excessive force. Their acquittal on April 29, 1992, touched off one of the worst urban riots in U.S. history. There were 54 riot-related deaths and nearly $1 billion in property damage as the seams of the city blew apart.

"It felt like I was an inch from death," he said, describing what it was like to be struck by batons, stung by Tasers.

In an interview with The Times this year, King confided that he was at peace with what happened to him.

"I would change a few things, but not that much," he said. "Yes, I would go through that night, yes, I would. I said once that I wouldn't, but that's not true. It changed things. It made the world a better place."

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-- Matt Stevens and Times staff

Twitter.com/mattstevenslat

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