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Rodney King

Dead at 47

6/17/2012 10:43 AM PDT UPDATED: 6/17/2012 4:56 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Rodney King found dead.UPDATE 9:27 AM PT -- According to our sources, King's fiancée is telling friends King had been drinking and smoked weed in the hours before his death.

Rodney King -- the man who was at the center of the infamous Los Angeles riots -- was found dead this morning in Rialito, CA. He was 47.

According to our sources, King's fiancée found him dead at the bottom of the pool (see photo of the pool below, taken today).

Law enforcement sources tell TMZ they responded to a call at 5:25 AM PT. We're told they physically removed King from the pool and attempted CPR.

Our sources say he was pronounced dead at 6:11 AM.

Law enforcement sources say Rialto PD will open a drowning investigation, but so far there are no signs of foul play.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck released a statement today saying, "Rodney King has a unique spot in both the history of Los Angeles and the LAPD. What happened on that cool March night over two decades ago forever changed me and the organization I love. His legacy should not be the struggles and troubles of his personal life but the immensely positive change his existence wrought on this City and its Police Department."

King became famous in 1991 when he was the victim of police brutality at the hands of the LAPD. The officers involved in the incident were acquitted the following year and the announcement of the verdict led to the Los Angeles riots. 

TMZ spoke with King about two months ago, where he seemed upbeat and introspective. 




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Amazing how people remember things that happened so long ago. If I may, I'll point out a few things. King ran from the police. He ran because he was on parole for an armed robbery conviction where he had beaten a shopkeeper with a metal pole. He reached 90 on the freeway and 80 on surface streets, and did so long enough for the LAPD to dispatch a helicopter to the chase. King literally threw 4 officers off while trying to subdue him, and a taser didn't stop him. Thus, the batons came out. The news media didn't play the early parts of the video showing this. Bet you also didn't know the George Holliday video was over 9 minutes. The jury saw the whole video in the first trial. The jury in the federal trial only saw what was played on the news. Notice the difference in results?

Also, King was a drunk and a criminal with a long rap sheet. And the person who was pulled out of the truck was Reginald Denny, not Rodney King. I lived in the riot zone at the time, and will remember the series of events until the last throes of dementia. King was a bad man, and that he was canonized was one of the biggest disgraces of the late 20th Century.

827 days ago


HE was HIGH as a kite in his little video..........he felt NOTHING, hence he numbs hiself with drugs, and alcohol.

827 days ago


I wish yall would watch the video of the incident from the beginning. None of the media has ever shown it. It shows R. King throwing two police officers off of him that were trying to restrain him. It seems that some media purposely trying to stir up trouble with the public.

827 days ago

Herndon Davis    

Rodney King was an unconventional messenger carrying an amazingly powerful message to the world.

He was the unlikely conduit through which America and the world sparked conversations concerning police brutality, racism and social inequality. -->

827 days ago

David Kaliner    

Aside from this comment and my previous one (which begins by stating: "The video evidence of police officers violently beating Rodney King years ago brought much needed attention to the horrible corruption and brutality that sadly exists more commonly among cops than a majority of the public is seemingly aware."), please disregard my two prior Rodney King comments. They were rough drafts with spelling errors that were never intended to be submitted. It was nice to get so many replies, however. While I strongly support freedom of speech, several responses were of a highly uninformed and nasty nature. In fact, I read certain wussy replies that seem to constitute ridiculously silly personal attacks. I could offer an old saying as advice to these idiots: "Eat my shorts." While I certainly welcome constructive criticism, there was no reason or sense to their foolish remarks. The famous videotape is clear and revealing evidence that cops did, in fact, behave most inappropriately in this violent attack. Many years ago, I worked alongside and befriended a good and honest police officer in Manhattan named Joe. Therefore, I am quite pleased with those cops out there who do their jobs in a sincere and fair manner. Years prior to the King episode, I also personally witnessed an incident of such extreme ferocity that I promptly reported it to the Civilian Complaint Review Board. This organization appeared to turn a deaf ear on my legitimate concerns against these rogue cops. It was most outrageous. So, I continue to speak out against such police brutality (as courageous Frank Serpico similarly did in his career). A more transparent system is sorely needed to evaluate police actions. I truly pray for karma against the evil people in this world. And I echo the hopeful sentiments of Rodney King, a man who stood up in the public arena, when he asked, "Can we all get along?"

827 days ago


I feel so badly for Rodney King. It seemed he came out of it all feeling optimistic and certainly not feeling sorry for himself. I think he was a genuinely nice person. May he rest in peace.

827 days ago


When Rodney was a little boy, his Kindergarden teacher gave him two pieces of sound advice: 1.) Rodney, to be a MILLIONARE, you only have to USE YOUR HEAD and 2.) No offense, but stay away from all KOONS!!! Rodney became a MILLIONARE by being kicked in the head by OFFICER KOONS!!! It was fate, I tell ya!!!

I'm torn about Messr. King. Parolee King, get's F'd up, drives around going 100 mph, gets pulled over by some PISSED OFF Pigs and he wants to do a little dance and taunt them? The Pigs lost control because Rodney pissed them off. Thickhead becomes a MILLIONARE having caused the death of 57 people AND $3 Billion dollars in damage to LA!!!
I'm torn because we needed A Rodney King and the Ramparts Investigation to put LAPD into Federal Receivership---THAT'S WHAT GOT LAPD's head out of their a**!!! So Rodney King DID GOOD after all [King and Maranda were s***bags that were martyred to give us rights we never had]. So the foo' felt guilty for causing the deaths of 57 people G-O-O-D!!!

FYI, I think his Fiance killed him. the Pool's 6' and Rodney's 6'5". Unless he Witney Houstined It, brotha be offed!!!

826 days ago


I will always remember Rodney King because how many people would be forgiving after a
beating like he got. Everybody was trying to stop the riot even the famous singer James
Brown that most people loved. When it seem hopeless Rodney King can out with the statement of "Can we all get along" and the riots stoped!!!!!!! Every time I hear those words it sounds like magic to my ears and I think of Rodney King. How many less beating are there now because of Rodney' King's beating? But I guess if you never been beaten you wouldn't know how it felt.

826 days ago


I'm afraid our tendency to celebrate and sympathize with criminals in our messed up society had a lot to do with his slow and inconsistent "rehabilitation." Maybe if he had served his sentence and not become such a martyr, he would have accepted responsibility and truly changed his ways.

826 days ago


I'm afraid that our tendency to celebrate and sympathize with criminals in our messed up society led to his slow and inconsistent "recovery." He let the media define him as a victim and never shook that title. Maybe if he had accepted responsibility and the media had left him alone to soul-search, he would have been out long ago making the world a better place. Instead he dies a sad, pathetic way, not making much of a positive difference to society.

826 days ago

elijAH starr    

The entire cir***stance of his infamy is upsetting to me. Arguably one of the first of many people in media to find themselves in the public eye through the public's camera eye. This was before HD cameras in cell phones and YouTube on the news. If only a gesture of recognition was made by the courts lives and communities would have been saved. He is a symbol and a complicated protagonist in American culture life. Unfortunately to an extent his story is repeated for some...

826 days ago

joe davenport jr    

im saddened that he passed/will pray for family/ in this country ther are alot of people suffering with drug addiction/mental issues an we as americans i think need to reach out to the poor /years an years ago thier were organizations that reached out to help mental ill addicted people there are so many vets people on the streets with major issues an programs have been shut down an as far as what took place between mr king an police that was crazy /an stll today people im sure wondering why this event took place /one thing is for sure god does not like abuse of power or authority

826 days ago

Norris Jones    

L.A.P.D does this all the time. This time it just happen to be caught on tape .... RIP Rodney

825 days ago


His legacy is lawlessness.... He was lawless. The idiots that looted and burned the city were lawless. ****roaches one and all...

824 days ago


RIP Rodney, still can remember when the news came out when those pigs were innocent, rest in peace brother

824 days ago
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