US: Rodney King laid to rest in Los Angeles

Rodney King`s savage beating by Los Angeles police in 1992 sparked one of the worst riots in US history.

Last Updated: Jul 01, 2012, 15:24 PM IST

Los Angeles: Rodney King, whose savage beating by Los Angeles police in 1992 sparked one of the worst riots in US history, has been laid to rest, nearly two weeks after his mysterious death.

King, 47, was found dead in his swimming pool at his Rialto, California, home last month.

About 225 mourners attended the ceremony in the Hall of Liberty, where pictures from King`s life were projected on a screen above the stage and a black casket covered with a wreath of white roses, blue irises and hydrangeas.

One of his daughters, Laura Dene King, 28, called her father a "gentle giant”.

"I will remember his smile, his unconditional love ... He was a great father, a great friend, he loved everyone. People will just have to smile when they think of him," Laura said during the solemn memorial service.

Prominent Black rights campaigner the Reverend Al Sharpton called King a "symbol of forgiveness" ahead of his funeral at the Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills cemetery.

"He became a symbol of forgiveness," he added before the funeral, also attended by the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Jobless and nearly broke in the end, King died on June 17. Rialto police received a 911 call from King`s fiancée, Cynthia Kelly, on that day. Responding officers found King at the bottom of the pool. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

A preliminary autopsy report will not be released, coroner spokeswoman Jody Miller said. The coroner will wait until a full report based on the toxicology exam findings is available in six to eight weeks, Miller said.

There were no preliminary signs of foul play and no obvious injuries on King`s body, police said, adding that they are conducting a drowning investigation.

King`s beating on March 03, 1991 after a high-speed car chase and its aftermath forever changed Los Angeles, its police department and the dialogue on race in America. King was beaten nearly to death. Three surgeons operated on him for five hours. The video of police beating King appeared on national television two days later, focusing attention on the issue of racially-motivated police brutality.

Four Los Angeles Police Department officers were indicted on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and excessive use of force by a police officer. But following a three-month trial, three of the officers were acquitted of all charges.

Following the verdict, African-Americans in Los Angeles exploded in outrage. The violence led to 54 deaths and USD 1 billion in property damage.

Two days after the riots broke out, King issued his call - "Can we all get along?" - a version of which was embroidered on the inside of his casket, Los Angeles Times reported.

King also sued the city of Los Angeles, and was awarded USD 3.8 million in damages.

In later years, King had several more run-ins with the law, including a 90-day jail stint in 1996 for a hit-and-run involving his wife at the time. On the 20th anniversary of the beating in 2011, he was ticketed for a traffic violation.

King said last year on the anniversary that he has forgiven the officers who beat him.

PTI