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Rodney King: ‘I am grieving’ for Trayvon Martin

April 11, 2012 |  6:42 pm

When Rodney King learned of the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer, the news triggered a flashback.

“The horrifying sound of a young black male screaming for his life on a 911 call reminded me of my horrifying scream on a videotape 20 years ago,” King, 46, said in a statement released Wednesday by his publicist.

"At that time, I thought I was going to die. Very, very gratefully, I survived.  Unfortunately, Trayvon Martin did not."

It remains unclear -- and a matter of debate -- whether the voice in the background of the Florida 911 call is that of Martin screaming, or George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who was taken into custody Wednesday on suspicion of second-degree murder.

King became a household name after he was beaten in 1991 by four police officers in an incident that was videotaped by George Holliday, who was awakened by helicopters hovering over his Lake View Terrace apartment and decided to try out his new camcorder. The officers were acquitted in 1992, igniting several days of rioting in Los Angeles. April 29 marks the 20-year anniversary of the unrest, which claimed more than 50 lives and caused millions of dollars in property damage.

Martin, 17, was returning from a convenience store Feb. 26 when he caught Zimmerman’s attention. 

Zimmerman, 28, told police that Martin was acting suspiciously and was possibly on drugs. Ignoring the advice of the police dispatcher, Zimmerman followed Martin. He later told police that he shot the youth in self-defense after Martin struck him, knocked him down and  pounded his head into the ground.

On Monday, State Atty. Angela B. Corey, the special prosecutor in the case, said Zimmerman  faces a second-degree murder charge for shooting Martin.

“I am grieving, like the rest of us, for this young man and his family,” said King, who has a lengthy record of legal troubles since the infamous LAPD beating. “And now that charges have been filed against George Zimmerman, I am waiting, like the rest of us, to get to the facts and carefully, thoroughly, get to the truth.”

King added that it was important for everyone to “come together to make sure that justice is done” for Martin.

“This is about something bigger than race – this is about justice,” King said.


Zimmerman in custody in slaying of Florida teenager

Slaying of two graduate students stuns USC; LAPD seeks killer

-- Ann M. Simmons
Photo: Rodney King  at his home in Rialto in 2008. Credit: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times.