Rodney King's death investigated as a drowning, authorities say
Rodney King's death at his home in Rialto on Sunday morning is being investigated as a possible drowning, 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.
Detectives remained at King's home, located in the 1000 block of East Jackson Street, for several hours after King's death.
"Preliminary information indicates this is a drowning," Stella said. "There were no signs of foul play."
The San Bernardino County coroner will conduct an autopsy.
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 and striking him dozens of times with their batons.
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, who continued to struggle with substance abuse problems over the years, recently wrote a book about his life called "The Riot Within."
This past April, King spoke with The Times about the riots and his troubled life.
“You don't want to let anybody's expectations down. People look at me like I should have been like Malcolm X or Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks. I should have seen life like that and stay out of trouble, and don't do this and don't do that. But it's hard to live up to some people's expectations, which [I] wasn't cut out to be," he said.
"I didn't go to school to be 'Rodney King' and [be] beat up by cops and thrust into the limelight. It's taken years to get used to the situation I'm in in life and the weight it holds. One of the cops in the jail [in a later encounter] said: 'You know what? People are going to know who you are when you're dead and gone. A hundred years from now, people are still going to be talking about you.' It's scary, but at the same time, it's a blessing."
— Kate Mather
Photo: Members of the media and police gather Sunday morning outside of King's home in Rialto. Credit: Phil Willon / Los Angeles Times