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Rodney King death report: Questions remain, relative says

Rodney King

One of Rodney King’s close relatives said Thursday that questions remain about how he drowned in his backyard pool despite the findings in a coroner’s investigation.

The San Bernardino County coroner’s office concluded that King died as a result of an accidental drowning after he fell into the pool in a “state of drug and alcohol-induced delirium.” Toxicology tests found alcohol, marijuana, PCP and cocaine in his system when he died.

Coroner's report on Rodney King death King’s fiancee, Cynthia Kelley, told police that he was drinking and smoking marijuana the night before his death.

PHOTOS: Rodney King | 1965- 2012

But one of King’s cousins, Ontresicia Averette, said that coroner’s officials told her Wednesday that some of the drug traces found were in such minute amounts that they may have been remnants from prior drug use.

“The levels of substances in his body were not enough to cause a death or drowning, and they had no way of determining whether those substance were put into his body that night or earlier in time,’’ Averette said. “Maybe his body built up some sort of toxicity and he went into paralysis.’’

Averette said the autopsy also found that King had an enlarged heart and may have suffered a heart attack before winding up in the pool.

AUDIO: Listen to the Rodney King 911 call

According to the coroner’s report, Kelley told investigators that King was in the backyard of their Rialto home on the morning of June 17 and woke her up by banging on the sliding glass door.

“She described him making grunting and growling sounds and having frothy secretions coming from his mouth," according to the coroner’s investigative report. “The subject at that time was wearing his underwear down around his knees and then apparently fell backwards onto the planter … just east of the sliding glass door."

Kelley told investigators that when she ran to get her cell phone to call 911, she heard a splash. When she went outside, King was at the bottom of the pool.

Kelley told police she was not a good swimmer, so she tried to rouse King by poking him with a pitchfork and hoe. She then called 911.

“Why didn’t she open the door after he was banging on it? No one knows," Averette said. “We only know what she has told us."


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-- Phil Willon

Photo: Rodney King at his home in Rialto in March. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

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