Twenty years later, the Rodney King LA riot videos are just as shocking as they were in 1992.
Through a then-groundbreaking but soon-to-become regular occurrence of hand-held surveillance, the shocking and disturbing beating of Rodney King by the Los Angeles Police Department made international news. The police said that they were acting in self-defense and that King was aggressive and resisting arrest. However, many who saw the video said the officers were out of line.
After seven days of deliberation in court, a jury acquitted all four officers involved in the Rodney King beating of assault charges and acquitted three of the four of using excessive force.
The result was mayhem. Beginning on April 23rd, 1992, rioters took to the streets, saying the beating and acquittal was an example of persistent racial profiling and abuse by the police. They lit buildings on fire, took whatever they pleased from stores and beat up individuals often for no reason than their race. The police lost control of the city. Nearly one week later, there were 53 deaths, 3,600 fires, 10,000 destroyed businesses and an estimated $1-billion-plus worth of damage.
After the riots, the officers were put to trial again. This time, two officers, Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell, were found guilty of violating King's civil rights and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.
Journalists and public citizens risked their lives to document the violence and destruction in the streets and twenty years later, the videos are still as powerful as ever. Watch the Rodney King riot videos below but please be warned: the content is graphic and might not be suitable for sensitive viewers.