LOS ANGELES — We saw his face a bloody, pulpy mess. And in 1992, when the four Los Angeles Police officers who beat him after a traffic stop were acquitted, it touched off anger that affected an entire generation. Now, 20 years later, this is the face of Rodney King, and this is what has happened to him in the interim.
He’s been a record company executive and a reality TV star among many other things.
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To millions of Americans, though, he will always be either a victim of one of the most horrific cases of police brutality ever videotaped or just a hooligan who didn’t stop when police attempted to pull him over.
He’s indisputably the black motorist whose beating on a darkened LA street led to one of the worst race riots in American history.
It’s been an up-and-down ride for King since he went on television at the height of those riots and pleaded in a quavering voice, “Can we all get along?”
He’s been arrested numerous times, mostly for alcohol-related crimes. In a recent interview with The Associated Press he said, “I still sip, I don’t get drunk.”
He has been to a number of rehab programs, he said, including the 2008 appearance on “Dr. Drew” Pinsky’s “Celebrity Rehab” program.
Still, he was arrested again just last year for driving under the influence.
It was his fear of being stopped for drunken driving on March 3, 1991, King said, that initially led him to try to evade police who attempted to pull him over for speeding.