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When a mostly white jury acquitted the police officers who were caught on video beating Rodney King, it set off the L.A. riots of 1992.
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He went on to talk about his healing process, which included forgiving the officers who injured him. "I had to learn to forgive," he said. "I couldn't sleep at night. I got ulcers. I had to let go, to let God deal with it. No one wants to be mad in their own house. I didn't want to be angry my whole life. It takes so much energy out of you to be mean."
After the 1991 beating, King continued to lead a troubled life, struggling with alcholism and having brushes with the law. In 2004, he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of the drug PCP, after he lost control of his SUV and slammed into a power pole in Rialto, California. In 2005, he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, and in 2007, police found him drunk with non-life threatening gunshot wounds also believed to be the result of a domestic dispute.
King shared his struggles as a reality TV star on VH1's Celebrity Rehab, and in his 2012 memoir, The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption.
Upon the 20th anniversary of the L.A. riots, King told CNN he had forgiven the officers who had beaten him, saying, "Yes, I have forgiven them because I have been forgiven so many times. My country's been good to me, and I've done some things that wasn't pleasant in my lifetime, and I've been forgiven for that."
In a final tragic twist, Rodney King's life ended on June 17, 2012. His fiancee, Cynthia Kelley, found him at the bottom of a swimming pool in Rialto, California. Kelley had previously served as a juror in King's civil law suit against the City of Los Angeles. According to police who responded to the scene, there were no preliminary signs of foul play. King was pronounced dead at a local hospital, 20 years after the L.A. riots threw him into the center of the fight against racial tension in America.
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