The videotaped beating, over 20 years ago, shocked the nation as it revealed evidence of the tendency of LAPD to abuse minority citizens.
It also stirred up a riot in that city when the white officers who beat King were initially acquitted by a Court. But the controversy and riots ushered in reforms of the city’s police department and the resignation of Chief Daryl Gates, who defended them.
King’s fiancée, Cynthia Kelley, discovered him around 5 a.m. June 17, authorities said. She told investigators that she had been talking to him intermittently through a sliding glass door. At some point she heard a splash, and ran out to find King submerged at the deep end.
Kelley, unable to swim herself, said she called 911. When police pulled King out of the water, King showed no signs of life.
Authorities say there was no evidence of foul play and are investigating his death as an accidental drowning.
King is remembered for uttering the words, “Can We All Just Get Along?” at the time when rioting occurred after the acquitting of the police officers charged with his beating.
“It was a critical question at a moment of crisis that forged our human bonds with one another,” said Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson. “It grew up out of the hope and the desire, especially of people of color, to see this nation come together.”
Parts of this story were extracted from the L.A. Times, MSNBC, Black Voices and NPR.