The death of Rodney King has been ruled accidental by the San Bernadino County Coroner after some doubt was cast in the media that the man whose beating at the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department sparked the Los Angeles riots died in the way it initially appeared.
Rodney King was found unresponsive in the pool at his home on the morning of June 17, dead from causes that were not immediately clear. It was soon reported that the man whose oft-repeated plea during the riots about everyone getting along had met his demise at the age of 47 due to an accidental drowning.
Soon after news of Rodney King’s death became public, friends and family of King told media sources that they suspected his fiancee, Cynthia Kelley, was withholding details about King’s last hours and that her reticence to disclose them indicated she perhaps played a role in his death.
Kelley was not invited to King’s funeral. But a coroner’s findings suggest an number of other factors may have been at play and that King perished, not due to malfeasance, but rather a combination of drugs, alcohol, and misadventure.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Rodney King was found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.06, as well as a number of illegal drugs in his system at the time of his death. The coroner’s office ruled:
“[Rodney King] was in a state of drug- and alcohol-induced delirium at the time of the terminal event and either fell or jumped into the swimming pool.”
King suffered from a heart condition, and — in addition to alcohol — cocaine, PCP and marijuana were found to be in his system when he died.