Rodney King autopsy results weeks away

2012-06-19 12:01
AP

AP

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Rialto - Investigators conducted an autopsy on Monday on the body of Rodney King, the central figure of the deadly Los Angeles riots, but it was expected to take several weeks to determine what killed him, officials said.

Coroner's officials will await results from toxicology tests that could take up to six weeks to gather before determining how King died. He was pulled from the deep end of his pool early on Sunday by police who were called to his home by his fiancée.

King, aged 47, became famous after he was severely beaten by Los Angeles police in 1991.

The beating was captured on videotape and broadcast worldwide, as were photos of King's bloodied and bruised face.

The more than 50 baton blows and kicks inflicted by officers left King with 11 skull fractures, a broken eye socket and facial nerve damage.

The trial of four officers charged with felony assault in the beating ended after a jury with no black members acquitted three of the officers on state charges; a mistrial was declared for a fourth.

Struggle with drugs

The verdict sparked one of the most costly and deadly race riots in US history.

Rialto police are investigating King's death as an apparent drowning and said they have found no signs of foul play. King's fiancée spoke with police for several hours on Sunday and is considered a witness in the case, Rialto Police Officer David Shepherd said on Monday.

A police officer remained stationed outside King's one-storey home throughout Monday, with several news crews also remaining in the neighbourhood. Cars slowed to look at the house, and some stopped for passengers to snap photos.

But no memorial to King had been created at the residence.

Toxicology results will show whether King, who struggled with addiction throughout his life, had any alcohol or drugs in his system.

Police have said there were no signs of alcohol or drug paraphernalia near the pool. Officers were seen taking a marijuana plant out of the house on Sunday, but Shepherd said he could not confirm what items were taken from the home.

Lawrence Spagnola, who helped King write his memoir The Riot Within: From Rebellion to Redemption, said King was proud of the book and hoped it signalled a new chapter in his life, when he wouldn't just be remembered as a beating victim.

A different person

"Rodney was tired of being the Rodney who was always asked about the beating and if he'd forgiven the cops," Spagnola said. King was happiest when he was outdoors and the two men talked about meeting for a fishing trip, Spagnola said.

"There was a lot of good in him," he said.

He said King seemed like a different person when he spoke about the darker aspects of his life.

King had plenty to look forward to, including setting a wedding date and the upcoming birth of another grandchild, he said.

Spagnola said King didn't expect he would be remembered, but hoped that his infamous words spoken as the riots still flared, "Can we all get along?" would long outlive him.

Even 20 years after the beating, King still endured migraines, joint pain and other ailments, Spagnola said. Alcohol provided some relief, he said.

"I honestly think he's more at peace now than he ever was in his life," Spagnola said.

Read more on:    rodney king  |  us  |  racism

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