Rodney King and the L.A. Riots: A timeline

By Stephanie A. Crockett, BET.com Staff Writer and Reuters News Service

Tonight on "BET Nightly News," Bobby Green, the bystander who rescued White motorist Reginald Denny from a mob that nearly beat him to death, and Keith Watson, one of the famed "L.A. Four" convicted in that beating, talk about the impact of the Los Angeles riots on the African-American community at 11 p.m. (ET)

"BET Tonight With Ed Gordon" follows with Congresswoman Maxine Waters, L.A. Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas and Danny Bakewell of The Brotherhood Crusade to discuss the state of Los Angeles 10 years later at 11:30 p.m. (ET).

Ten years ago today, several days of rioting broke out in Los Angeles after four White police officers were acquitted by a White jury on charges of assault and use of excessive force against Rodney King.  Here is an account of what happened before and after the riots: 

March 3, 1991 -- Motorist Rodney King, 27, led California Highway Patrol police officers on a high-speed chase. Once the officers were able to stop the car, they pulled King from the car and hit him 56 times with a baton. During the two-minute beating, King suffered 11 skull fractures, brain damage and kidney damage. 

March 4, 1991 -- George Holliday, who videotaped the beating from a nearby balcony, gave his tape to a TV news station. The station aired the tape, prompting TV stations worldwide to broadcast it.

March 5, 1991 -- Although 21 officers from the Los Angeles Police Department and four California Highway Patrol officers were on the scene, only four officers were criminally charged: Sgt. Stacy KoonOfficer Laurence M. PowellOfficer Theodore Briseno and Officer Timothy Wind were arraigned on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force. 

March 26, 1991 -- The officers pleaded not guilty. In the 11 months before the trial began, defense attorneys moved the trial to the suburb of Simi Valley, Calif., despite concerns that the jury would reflect a different demographic than that of the city of Los Angeles. 

March 5, 1992 -- Trial testimony begins.

April 29, 1992 -- A White jury acquits the four White officers, sparking six days of riots in L.A. Thousands of people participated in the riots, and the violence and looting spread to other parts of Los Angeles County. Federal troops and the California National Guard were called in. According to the book, "The L.A. Riots -- What Really Happened" by James D. Delk, 54 people were killed, there were 2,383 reported injuries, and 13,212 people were arrested.  More than 1,100 buildings were damaged or destroyed. There were also riots in several other cities; 300 people were arrested in Atlanta. Reginald Denny, a White truck driver, was pulled from his truck and attacked during the riots. He later testified that more than 90 bones in his face were broken during the beating. 

May 2, 1992 -- The U.S. Justice Department said a federal grand jury would investigate whether King's civil rights had been violated.

May 12, 1992 -- Damian Williams, Antoine Miller, Keith Watson and Gary Williams, known as the "L.A. Four," were arrested for the beating of Reginald Denny. 

August 4, 1992 -- The officers are indicted by a federal grand jury. 

September 12, 1992 -- White supremacist groups from across the country, including the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrated at the courthouse in Simi Valley. They faced off against demonstrators from civil rights groups.

October 1992 -- Sgt. Stacy Koon's book, "Presumed Guilty: The Tragedy of the Rodney King Affair" was published. Damian Williams and Keith Watson were convicted in connection with the beating of Reginald Denny. Watson was released after being sentenced to time served while awaiting trial. 

December 1992 -- Damian Williams was sentenced to 10 years in prison in connection with the beating of Reginald Denny. Antoine Miller was sentenced to probation and community service. Gary Williams was sentenced to three years in prison. 

February 3, 1993 -- Jury selection for the civil trial in the Rodney King beating begins.

February 25, 1993 -- The civil trial begins. 

March 9, 1993 -- Rodney King takes the stand for the first time. He said he drank a beer the night he was beaten by police.

April 10, 1993 -- The jury begins deliberating.

April 17, 1993 -- Koon and Powell were found guilty of violating King's civil rights. Briseno and Wind were acquitted. 6,500 police officers were on duty that day, including police snipers, in case there was another riot. There wasn't. King won $3.8 million in his lawsuit against the city.

Where Are They Now? 

During the past 10 years, Rodney King has been in and out of trouble with the law. With some of the $3.8 million he won, King reportedly started a rap label called "Straight AltaPazz."

The beating also prompted changes in the LAPD, beginning with getting rid of Police Chief Daryl Gates. Recommendations for reform were put into place.

The four officers accused of criminal and civil rights violations, Sgt. Stacy Koon, Officer Laurence M. Powell, Officer Theodore Briseno and Officer Timothy Wind, have all retired from the police force. Most of them are keeping a low profile, working in private security.