The incident led to a high-profile court case, and when the officers accused in the beating were acquitted in 1992, Los Angeles erupted in televised riots that left more than 50 people dead.
King's beating shocked the world, in part because it was captured on videotape -- this in an era before YouTube, Twitter and the universal immediacy of the Web. The fuzzy footage of the officers' attack on King was broadcast on television and later introduced as evidence in the criminal trial. The beating would never have been seen if it hadn't been filmed by a man named George Holliday, who grabbed his video camera and stepped onto his balcony when he was awoken by sirens.
Surge Desk has five facts on the man who accidentally captured a shocking moment in American history.
He came to the United States from Argentina
Holliday left his native Argentina in 1980 and moved to the United States. After the King incident became a national scandal, Holliday said he was unaccustomed to public acts of police brutality. "Coming from Argentina, it's different over there," he said. "If a criminal commits a crime, you know, the police take him in and they take care of him. For me, that's normal, because that's the way I grew up."
He initially reached out to the LAPD
Because the King beating seemed so unusual, Holliday said he tried to reach the Los Angeles Police Department to find out what had happened. When he was unable to get answers, he contacted his local TV news station, KTLA.
He's a plumber
At the time of the King incident, Holliday was a manager at a plumbing company. When the Los Angeles Times caught up with him five years ago, he was a self-employed plumber.
The LA Times says Holliday "might have been better off had he stayed in bed" the night of the King beating. Holliday's marriage fell apart during the media circus, and he received death threats in the mail.
He met Rodney King many years later
According to the website where Holliday licenses video of his Rodney King footage, the two men met face to face several years after the beating. They ran into each other at a gas station one night. As Holliday describes it, "He says, 'Yeah, you don't recognize me.' And I said, 'No,' and he says, 'Yeah, you saved my life.' And so then I knew who he was."
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