Rest In Peace, Rodney King


If you don’t know anything about Rodney King beyond the famous tape of his beating in LA and the riots that followed, it may not matter very much to you that he drowned to death yesterday.

Details began to emerge Sunday about the death of Rodney King, a key figure in the 1992 Los Angeles riots. He was 47 and died at his Rialto home.

King’s fiancée called 911 about 5:25 a.m. and said she found King at the bottom of his pool, Sgt. Paul Stella said.

A short time earlier, Cynthia Kelley had talked to King, who was outside, through a sliding-glass door, said Rialto Police Capt. Randy DeAnda. She then heard a splash and ran out, DeAnda said. She saw King at the bottom of the pool at the deep end, he said.

Kelley is “not a great swimmer,” DeAnda said, explaining why she did not jump in. Police arrived moments later and an officer jumped in the pool and pulled King’s body onto the deck.

“There were no signs of life,” DeAnda said.

The officers attempted CPR, which was continued when paramedics arrived, he said. King was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton where he was pronounced dead at 6:11 a.m., he said.

Next-door neighbor Sandra Gardea, 31, said she heard commotion in King’s backyard early Sunday morning. Gardea said about 3 or 3:30 a.m. she heard someone sobbing.

“It just sounded like someone was really sad,” she said. “There was a lot of moaning and crying. Another person was trying to console that person.”

On the other hand, after seeing Rodney King on “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew,” I have some genuine sympathy for Rodney King.

Other people made Rodney King into a symbol of police brutality and an excuse to riot, but that never seemed to be how he saw himself. On that show, King came across as a quiet, amiable guy who was trying to pull himself together. In fact, you got the impression that if he had lived in a world where there was no alcohol and no drugs, Rodney King would have probably led a very normal life, perhaps even a happy life. Ultimately, King was no hero, role model, or symbol of much of anything other than wasted potential. But, Michael Lohan was right. He did seem like a nice guy and I do wish that he had gotten control of his demons and lived a long, happy life instead of ending up dead way too young at 47.

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