The ’92 Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD

The changes wrought by the King beating have been substantive, not only in the upper echelons of the LAPD but in the police culture seen on the streets, according to San Fernando Valley anti-gang advocate William “Blinky” Rodriguez.

“It’s a completely different type of relationship that communities now have with the police,” Rodriguez said. “I think law enforcement realizes that the community has to play its role.

“Sometimes it’s just co-existing because there’s an open dialogue, and you have to say that the leadership of the LAPD has played a tremendous role in making this happen.”

‘Memories still there’

King had nightmares about the beating for the rest of his life, he said in a interview a year before his death in 2012. He was 47 when his fiancée Cynthia Kelly found him lying at the bottom of his swimming pool in Rialto. According to an autopsy, King died of accidental drowning and concluded that a combination of alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and PCP found in his system were contributing factors.

“I wake up like tossing and turning and sometimes even hearing the voices that went on that night,” he said in the interview. “You know, ‘Hands behind your back. Lay down. Get down! Get down! Get down’ …

“I have to wake up. It’s a nightmare, all right. I have to look outside. It’s all green, blue. That time has passed on, but the nightmares and memories is still there.”

Two of the four officers who were acquitted in Simi Valley, Sgt. Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell, were convicted of federal civil rights violations and served 30 months in prison.

The other two officers, Theodore Briseno and rookie Timothy Wind, were acquitted in the federal civil rights trial.

The city of Los Angeles paid King $3.8 million to settle a civil suit.

Holliday, the plumbing company manager who videotaped the King beating, sold his footage to a local television station. Now living in seclusion in the Valley, he works as a self-employed plumber.

He licenses the use of the video and interviews with himself through his website, www.rodneykingvideo.com.

Rebuilding from the ashes

Today, on the once-vacant piece of land where where the beating took place sits the Lakeview Terrace Library, though there is no marker designating the site of dubious distinction.

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