Rodney King, the central figure in a 1992 police beating trial in Simi Valley
that sparked the deadly Los Angeles riots, was found submerged in his swimming
pool Sunday in Rialto and pronounced dead. He was 47.
Three of the four officers tried were acquitted, and the jury deadlocked on a charge against the fourth officer.
King's fiancee called 911 at 5:25 a.m. Sunday to say she found him in the pool at his San Bernardino County home. Officers found King in the deep end, pulled him out and tried to revive him with CPR. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
An autopsy was expected to determine the cause of death within two days. Police found no alcohol or drug paraphernalia near the pool and said foul play wasn't suspected.
King's next-door neighbor, Sandra Gardea, said that about 3 a.m., she heard music and someone "really crying, like really deep emotions. ... Like tired or sad, you know?
"I then heard someone say: 'OK, please stop. Go inside the house.' ... We heard quiet for a few minutes. Then after that we heard a splash in the back."
King's fiancee, Cynthia Kelley, was a member of a civil jury that in 1994 awarded King $3.8 million in a lawsuit he filed against the city of Los Angeles over the beating. King had three daughters.
His death came about two months after he was thrust back into the spotlight for the 20th anniversary of the April 29, 1992, Simi Valley verdicts, an occasion he marked with a published memoir, "The Riot Within: From Rebellion to Redemption."
The trial stemmed from the March 3, 1991, beating of King by Los Angeles Police Department officers in that city's Lake View Terrace area. The beating occurred after King, a then-25-year-old black man who had been drinking and was on parole for robbery, led law enforcement on a fast chase.
Part of King's encounter with police was captured on videotape by a witness, George Holliday, and quickly drew national attention after being aired on TV news broadcasts.
The footage shows King, lying on the ground, being struck dozens of times with metal batons wielded by officers Laurence Powell and Timothy Wind. Officer Theodore Briseno is seen stomping King.
Before Holliday turned on his camera, an intoxicated and aggressive King repeatedly resisted arrest, tussled with officers and was not subdued by a Taser wielded by Sgt. Stacey Koon, the supervising officer, the officers' defense lawyers argued.
King was left with 11 skull fractures, a broken eye socket and facial nerve damage.
Due to what defense attorneys said was prejudicial pretrial publicity in Los Angeles, the beating trial of Koon, Powell and Wind -- all white -- and Briseno -- who is Hispanic -- was transferred to Ventura County Superior Court's East County courthouse in largely white, conservative Simi Valley.
A predominantly white jury acquitted Koon, Wind and Briseno of using excessive force and assault with a deadly weapon while deadlocking on one charge against Powell.
The verdicts enraged the South-Central black community and sparked days of rioting in which more than 50 people were killed and thousands were injured and arrested. Property damage was estimated at $1 billion.
In a plea for calm on the third day of rioting, King appeared at a news
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