Rodney King Kimberly Shaw UNV/104 October 17, 2011 Rodney King Rodney King is an African American male who gained national attention for a beating that he endured at the hands of four white police officers in Los Angeles, California in 1991. Rodney King was allegedly pulled over for speeding at a rate of speed as high as 110 mph on the night of March 3, 1991. An amateur cameraman by the name of George Holliday videotaped King being beaten by four white Los Angeles Police Officers who were later identified as Lawrence Powell, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno, and Stacey Koon.
The four officers alleged that Rodney King was pulled over for traffic violations and that King appeared to be intoxicated and that he also was being disobedient by not staying on the ground as he was ordered to do by the officers. King was also tasered twice by the officers but he still continued to try and get up, which the officers claimed made them begin to strike King with their police batons for nearly 2 minutes (Anonymous, 2011). The officers tried to justify their actions by claiming that they tried to contain King without the use of firearms.
The officers also claimed to be fearful of King whom they said to believe was on the drug PCP, which can enhance a person’s ability to gain strength which could have caused King to overpower the officers. George Holliday sent the videotape to CNN and news stations across the United States who televised the beating repeatedly. As news of the Rodney King beating began to spread, people across the nation believed that Rodney King’s beating was racially motivated and that the officers involved should be prosecuted.
The four officers where eventually charged with crimes which included assault with a deadly weapon and also with filing a false police report. The officers trial was originally suppose to be held in Los Angeles, California but the attorneys for the officers did not believe that their clients could receive a fair trial in Los Angeles because of the high publicity of the beating, so the attorneys asked for a change of venue and had the trial moved to Simi Valley, California, which is a predominantly white suburban area of Los Angeles.
There was no African American selected to hear the case against the officers. On April 29, 1992, the mostly white jury acquitted all four officers for the beating of Rodney King. Two hours after the announcement of the officer’s acquittal, violent riots broke out across Los Angeles (Douglas Linder, 2001). Black youth in Los Angeles began targeting white people, some of which were beaten. One of the violent attacks against white people was that of innocent, mild mannered truck driver Reginald Denny.
Denny was driving his 18 wheeler through the intersection at Normandie and Florence when he was pulled from his truck and kicked repeatedly and beaten in the head with a hammer. Denny was then smashed in his head with a concrete block which knocked him unconscious, fracturing his head in ninety-one places. The riots in LA lasted for 5 days and left fifty-four people dead and over one billion dollars in property damage. Federal charges were eventually brought against the officers and a federal trial for the officers began on February 25, 1993 in Los Angeles, California.
This time the jury was mixed with different races, two of which were black. In the federal trial, 2 of the officers, Koon and Powell, were found guilty for their role in the Rodney King beating. Officers Briseno and Wind were acquitted. Federal prosecutors were pleased with the outcome of the federal trial and the city of Los Angeles remained quiet. Both of the officers convicted received 30 month sentences and both served their sentences in separate federal prison camps in October 1993.
In December 1995, the officers were released from prison. Rodney King sued the city of Los Angeles and was awarded a 3. 8 million dollar settlement (Douglas Linder, 2001). References Douglas Linder University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law jurist. law. pitt. edu/trials24. htm. Retrieved October 13, 2011 misconduct. weebly. com/the-rodney-king-story. Retrieved October 10, 2011 Rodney King. (2011). Biography. com. Retrieved 09:18, Oct 10, 2011 from http://www. biography. com/people/rodney-king-9542141