LAKE VIEW TERRACE (CBSLA.com) — Twenty five years ago Thursday, Los Angeles police officers were videotaped repeatedly striking Rodney King with batons.
March 3, 1991 is and will always be a pivotal moment in the nation’s conversation about police and race.
It was then that four white officers beat King, an unarmed black man. In footage captured on a bystander’s camcorder, the officers kicked and clubbed King dozens of times.
When the officers were tried a year later, a majority white jury declined to convict them, and riots, looting, and violence followed.
By the time order was restored, 55 people had been killed and more than 2,000 were hurt.
Now, a quarter-century later, video of police misconduct, including last year’s deadly shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina, has fueled a renewed protest movement and strengthened demand for police to change in how they deal with minorities.
“Twenty five years later, there’s still a lot of work to do,” said Peter Bibring, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Southern California.
Bibring says King was the first time video made a major impact in a police violence case.
“The regularity with which those videos come out show how much there is to be done in actually reforming policing,” he said.
The King beating began a wave of reforms for the Los Angeles Police Department, including tighter rules on when officers can use force, more minority officers, and stricter term limits for police chiefs.
Those who live near the site of the beating say it is still relevant 25 years later.
“You never know who’s watching and you should treat people fairly, and right, especially if you’re in law enforcement,” said Cindy White, a nearby resident.
CBS2 reached out to the LAPD, but the department declined to comment.
King won a $3.8 million settlement from the city before drowning in 2012.