Rodney King, the victim of a videotaped police beating that sparked riots in California, was found dead Sunday. He was 47.
King's fiancé called 911 at 5:25 a.m. to report that she found him at the bottom of the swimming pool at their home in Rialto, Calif., police Lt. Dean Hardin said.
Officers arrived to find King in the water and unresponsive, with no signs of foul play. He was transported to Arrowhead Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:11 a.m, Hardin said.
The San Bernardino County coroner will perform an autopsy within 48 hours.
The 1992 riots, which were set off by the acquittals of the officers who beat King, lasted three days and left 55 people dead, more than 2,000 injured and swaths of Los Angeles on fire. At the height of the violence, King pleaded on television: "Can we all get along?"
King was stopped for speeding on a darkened street on March 3, 1991. Four Los Angeles police officers hit him more than 50 times with their batons, kicked him and shot him with stun guns.
A man who had quietly stepped outside his home to observe the commotion videotaped most of it and turned a copy over to a TV station. It was played over and over for the following year, inflaming racial tensions across the country.
It seemed that the videotape would be the key evidence to a guilty verdict against the officers, whose trial was moved to the predominantly white suburb of Simi Valley, Calif. Instead, on April 29, 1992, a jury with no black members acquitted three of the officers; a mistrial was declared for a fourth.
Violence erupted immediately, starting in South Los Angeles.
Police, seemingly caught off-guard, were quickly outnumbered by rioters and retreated. As the uprising spread to the city's Koreatown area, shop owners armed themselves and engaged in running gun battles with looters.
During the riots, a white truck driver named Reginald Denny was pulled by several black men from his cab and beaten almost to death. He required surgery to repair his shattered skull, reset his jaw and put one eye back into its socket.
The police chief, Daryl Gates, came under intense criticism from city officials who said officers were slow to respond to the riots. He was forced to retire. Gates died of cancer in 2010.
He received a $3.8 million settlement from the city but recently told The Associated Press much of that money was lost to bad investments.
In the years after, he was arrested numerous times, mainly for alcohol-related crimes, and has made several attempts at rehabilitation, including an appearance on television's "Celebrity Rehab."
In an interview earlier this year with The Associated Press, King said he was a happy man.
"America's been good to me after I paid the price and stayed alive through it all," he said. "This part of my life is the easy part now.”
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.