Rodney King, the man whose beating by Los Angeles cops in 1991 was caught on film and helped spark riots after the acquittal of the four officers, was found dead Sunday morning in his swimming pool.
King was 47 years old at the time of his death.
Police in King's hometown of Rialto, Calif., east of Los Angeles, received a 911 call from King's fiancée just after 5 a.m. local time. Responding officers found him at the bottom of his pool, and though they attempted to revive him, he was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
There were no signs of foul play and the police say they are treating the incident as an accidental drowning. King's body will be autopsied in accordance with state law.
King will forever be burned into the American consciousness after the amateur video of four LAPD officers beating him with wooden batons and a stun gun was shown on local news channels all over the country.
He was nearly killed by the beating and required five hours of surgery in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
The police were acquitted in May 1992 by an all-white jury in a Los Angeles suburb, and the city of Los Angeles exploded. African-American residents, as well as those of other races, took to the streets, lighting fires and looting.
The riots lasted three days, killed more than 50 people and caused $1 billion in damage. The riots began to abate when King himself took to television and pleaded with the city with a line that has since become famous.
People, I just want to say, can we all get along? Can we get along, he said.
The violence ended soon after.
Two of the four policemen were convicted on civil rights counts a year later. King also sued the city and was awarded $3.8 million by a jury. There were also major overhauls of the LAPD and its procedures in the wake of King's beating and the riots.