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Rodney King found at bottom of his swimming pool by fiancee

June 17, 2012 |  9:21 am

 

Rodney King was found at the bottom of his swimming pool at his home in Rialto early Sunday, authorities said.

King’s fiancée called 911 about 5:25 a.m. and said she found King at the bottom of his pool, Sgt. Paul Stella told The Times. Officers pulled him from the pool and began CPR until paramedics arrived and took King to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton.

King was pronounced dead at the hospital at 6:11 a.m., Stella said.

PHOTOS: Rodney King | 1965- 2012

Preliminary information indicated King drowned and there were no immediate signs of foul play, Stella said.

An autopsy will be conducted.

King was drunk and unarmed when he was pulled over in 1991 for speeding by Los Angeles Police Department officers, who responded to his erratic behavior by kicking him and striking him dozens of times with their batons.

VIDEOS: Rodney King

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.

King became a symbol for police brutality and troubled relations between the LAPD and minority residents. He was eventually awarded a $3.8-million settlement. But the money and the fame brought him little solace. He had repeated run-ins with the law and as of April said he was broke. He wrote a book this year recounting his struggles.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A. riots, 20 years later

King said he was scarred by the beating.

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

A jury acquitted four police officers in the beating of King, unleashing an onslaught of pent-up anger in parts of the community. There were 54 riot-related deaths and nearly $1 billion in property damage as the seams of the city blew apart.

 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 says. "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."

What emerges from both the book and the man is the picture of someone who has spent two decades coping, not always well, with the blows that police inflicted on the night of March 3, 1991, and with the notoriety that came later.

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Rodney King, dead at 47 

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Video: Rodney King beating

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King struggled with demons after beating

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Streeter: The past still grips Rodney King

Morrison: Rodney King, 20 years after L.A.'s riots

— Kate Mather

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