Where they are now
On the night of March 3, 1991, Rodney King led police on a more than 110 mph chase through the San Fernando Valley. A resident captured what happened next on tape: several LAPD officers dealt more than 50 blows to King while he was handcuffed on the ground. When the officers were acquitted on April 29, 1992, riots broke out across Los Angeles.
Here's a look at some key figures.
Shortly after midnight on March 3, 1991, George Holliday awoke to the sounds of police sirens and helicopters outside his apartment. He grabbed his Sony Handycam and began filming.
His nine minutes of grainy footage ignited furious charges of racial injustice. He received $500 from KTLA-TV Channel 5 for rights to broadcast the tape. He owns a copy — the original remains in federal archives.
Holliday, an Argentine plumber who moved to the U.S. in 1980, still lives and works in the San Fernando Valley. He told The Times a decade ago: "I know that my name appears in the history books. To me, that’s the coolest part of this whole thing."
RODNEY G. KING
By the end of his beating by LAPD officers, Rodney King had a broken cheekbone, a fracture at the base of his skull and a broken a leg.
Although King was driving under the influence and was on parole for armed robbery, he was never charged. He was awarded $3.8 million in compensation by the city.
King, 47, spent his multimillion dollar award. He had frequent run-ins with police for domestic violence, substance abuse and driving under the influence. He appeared on Vh1’s "Celebrity Rehab," tackling his alcoholism, and just published a book, "The Riot Within, My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption." He was found dead in the swimming pool at his Rialto home on Sunday, June 17.
STACEY C. KOON
Stacey C. Koon, an LAPD sergeant at the beating scene, was acquitted in state court but was one of two officers convicted of federal civil rights violations. He served 30 months in prison and wrote a book, raising $4 million in legal funds.
Koon, 61, does not talk about his personal life because of continued death threats, said his lawyer Ira M. Salzman. "He's a committed family man," Salzman said. "And he's moving forward with his life as best as he can."
LAURENCE M. POWELL
Laurence M. Powell, the officer seen delivering the majority of the 56 baton blows during the 81 seconds of videotaped beating, was the only one not fully acquitted in the state trial. He was convicted with Koon in the federal case and was released in 1996 after serving a 30-month sentence.
Powell rarely spoke to the media. In a statement sent to the Times in 1992 by a family friend, Powell said that he "never harbored any personal malice toward Mr. King," noting that his family, while he was growing up, had cared for foster children of different races.
Powell, who worked with computers while he was in prison, later worked in the computer retailing industry. Now 49, he lives in San Diego County, according to public records.
TIMOTHY E. WIND
Timothy E. Wind, 10 months out of the Police Academy, was training under Powell the night of the King beating. He struck King with his baton and kicked him, but was twice acquitted of any criminal wrongdoing. Wind, who was badly unnerved by the two trials, was the only defendant who did not testify during the trial.
The LAPD fired him. He took a part-time job as a community service officer for the Culver City Police Department in 1994, which some residents protested.
In 2000, he left that job when he was admitted into Indiana University’s law school. He graduated in 2003 and is remembered by professors as a good student with excellent writing skills. Wind, now 51, could not be reached and lives in Kansas, according to public records and acquaintances.
THEODORE J. BRISENO
Theodore J. Briseno was twice acquitted of criminal charges. He was the only defendant to break ranks and testify against the other three officers who were charged, describing them as "out of control."
He acknowledged that he stomped on King late in the video, saying he was trying to stop him from moving.
Briseno, a 10-year LAPD veteran, was fired in 1994 and unsuccessfully fought to keep his job. He is 59, and property records show he lives in Illinois.
DARYL F. GATES
Police Chief Daryl F. Gates refused to step down after the King episode. He apologized but called it an aberration in the LAPD.
Gates became a polarizing figure, reviled by LAPD critics and lauded by people who wanted the department to forcefully put down the violence.
A commission later blamed Gates for a slow police response to the riots. He retired a month after the riots and moved to Orange County. He died in 2010. Thousands mourned in a downtown procession.
SOON JA DU
Two weeks after King's beating, Korean American grocer Soon Ja Du fatally shot 15-year-old Latasha Harlins after a dispute over a bottle of orange juice. Latasha died with $2 in her hand.
Du faced a possible 16 year sentence in state prison. A judge sentenced her to probation, saying she was in fear from earlier robberies. The sentence and a surveillance video of Latasha being shot in the back inflamed racial tensions and became symbols of what many believed was a double standard of justice.
Du's store burned in the rioting and never reopened. Du, 71, lives in the San Fernando Valley.
REGINALD O. DENNY
Hours after a Ventura County jury found Koon, Powell, Briseno and Wind not guilty on April 29, 1992, millions watched on TV as truck driver Reginald O. Denny was stopped at Florence and Normandie avenues, dragged from his truck and beaten unconscious with a brick, a tire iron and a fire extinguisher. He had more than 90 skull fractures.
He went through years of therapy, working on his speech and regaining the ability to drive. Now 56, he works as a boat mechanic in Lake Havasu, Ariz., and "he's getting along somewhat," a family member said.
DAMIAN M. WILLIAMS
Two weeks after Reginald Denny was beaten, Damian "Football" Williams, the man who smashed Denny's head with a brick, was arrested in a raid by 100 state and federal officers.
Williams, who was 19 at the time of the incident, was convicted and served four years of a 10-year sentence.
After his release, he was arrested and convicted of aiding in a murder at a drug house in 2000 and sentenced to 46 years to life. Williams, 39, is in Calipatria State Prison.
Sources: Times research
Credits: Reporting: Rosanna Xia. Photos: Soon Ja Du, Darryl Gates, Laurence Powell and Timothy Wind | Ken Lubas / Los Angeles; Reginald Denny | Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times; Timothy Briseno | Rick Meyer / Los Angeles Times; Rodney G. King | Larry Davis / Los Angeles Times; George Holliday | Rolando Otero / Los Angeles Times; Damian Williams | Agence France Press; Stacey Koon | Nick Ut /Associated Press