[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Sunny
Sunny
53°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
February 23
1998 - Worst day of record-setting 1997-98 El Nino storm season [story]
El Nino


Rodney King, subject of a police beating and trial that sparked the 1992 Los Angeles riots, was found dead in a swimming pool at his Rialto home Sunday morning. He was 47.

For three former Los Angeles Police officers who lived in the Santa Clarita Valley and a fourth who lived in the San Fernando Valley, it’s the end of a chapter, if not the story.

It was just after midnight March 3, 1991, when King was pulled over in Lake View Terrace following a high-speed chase on the 210 freeway. CHP and LAPD officers engaged in the pursuit; among the first LAPD officers on the scene were Sgt. Stacey Koon of Castaic, Laurence “Larry” Powell of Valencia, Timothy Wind of Canyon Country and Theodore “Ted” Briseno of Chatsworth.

Koon assumed command as a fifth officer, Melanie Singer, held King at gunpoint. Koon then ordered a swarm. King resisted, throwing Powell and Briseno off his back and hitting Briseno. King’s ability to rise up and defeat the initial swarm led officers to believe he was high on PCP – an allegation that was later not proved, although King was approximately 2.5 times over the legal limit for alcohol intoxication.

Screenshot from Holliday videotape

Koon called off the swarm and tasered King, who withstood it and stood up again. By this time a private citizen, George Holliday, had started videotaping the incident from his apartment. He later sold his videotape to an L.A.-area TV news station for $500.

As King moved toward the officers, Koon ordered Powell and Wind to subdue King with their batons, which they did. King was arrested and taken to a nearby hospital where he was found to have sustained cuts, bruises and a fractured facial bone.

Whether Powell struck King in the head is a matter of some dispute. Television viewers around the world believed to see it happen in Holliday’s videotape. Powell later told this writer it didn’t happen and showed this writer evidence that his baton didn’t connect with King’s head. Despite Powell’s attorneys’ attempts, no judge in any court ever allowed the evidence to be introduced.

The first trial came in 1992 when a Simi Valley jury acquitted the four officers – Koon, Powell, Briseno and Wind – on charges of excessive force. As filed, the charges carried a burden of proof on the par of attempted murder, which was too high a bar for District Attorney Ira Reiner to prove. Reiner drew quiet criticism for filing the wrong charges and opted not to seek reelection that year.

News of the acquittal filtered to South Central Los Angeles, which erupted in riots resulting in 53 deaths and an estimated $1 billion in property losses.

U.S. Attorney Gen. Janet Reno then charged the four offers with violating King’s federal civil rights.

Reno intended to use an audiotape on which one of the officers supposedly used the “N”-word during their confrontation with King.

The question of whether the officers used the “N”-word during the altercation was central to Reno’s allegation that the officers, who were white, discriminated against King on the basis of his being black, thus violating his civil rights.

LAPD Officer Laurence Powell in 1987

Justice Department officials took the audiotape to a high-end post-production sound processing firm to isolate the voices.

The audio company was represented by Bruce Fortine, a Santa Clarita entrepreneur known locally as a member of the College of the Canyons board of trustees.

Fortine told this writer that after isolating the sounds, the tape revealed no evidence that the officers used the “N”-word.

He said his company returned the tape to the Justice Department.

But then, during the federal trial, Reno said the tape had “disappeared” and could not be introduced as evidence (and it wasn’t).

Wind and Briseno were acquitted. Koon and Powell were found guilty of the federal charges and sentenced to 32 months in prison.

Koon paid for his defense with proceeds from his 1992 book, “Presumed Guilty: The Tragedy of the Rodney King Affair.”

Powell raised money any way he could, notably with local fundraisers in the Santa Clarita Valley. Numerous politicians including Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon and Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich were listed on the host committee for a $75-a-plate dinner but did not attend the actual event.

The last this writer knew, Powell was working in a retail electronics chain store in San Diego County.

In an unrelated incident July 6, 2009, LAPD Officer Susan J. Clemmer, 41, of Valencia, walked into the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station and fatally shot herself [see breaking TV news report]. Clemmer had been a witness for the defense, testifying that King was laughing and cursing while he was hogtied, and that he spat blood on her while en route to the hospital in an ambulance. She also testified that Powell was so scared, he thought he might shoot King.

In the years that followed, King was arrested on drug charges and at least once for domestic violence when he allegedly dragged his former wife with his car.

Nonetheless, King became something of an odd media darling with his famous quotation, “Can’t we all get along?”

On that question, the jury is still out.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

1 Comment

Leave a Comment


SCV NewsBreak
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Friday, Feb 21, 2020
Man Arrested for Cyberattacks in 2018 Congressional Race
A man who was contracted to work on former Rep. Katie Hill’s 2018 campaign for the 25th District Congressional Primary Election has been arrested by FBI agents on suspicion of cyberattacks on campaign websites.
Friday, Feb 21, 2020
COVID-19 Update: KHTS Co-Owner’s Fever Flares, His Quarantine Starts Over
After normal temperature readings for two days, KHTS co-owner Carl Goldman's fever returned Thursday night as he remains in quarantine in an infectious disease treatment center in Nebraska fighting the COVID-19 virus.
Friday, Feb 21, 2020
Early-Morning Magnitude 3.5 Earthquake Rolls Castaic
Santa Clarita Valley residents may or may not have felt a magnitude 3.5 earthquake that rolled through Castaic early Friday morning.
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1998 - Worst day of record-setting 1997-98 El Nino storm season [story]
El Nino
1983 - Armed robber taken out at Alpha Beta supermarket on Lyons [story]
Alpha Beta market
A proposed subdivision that would ultimately expand The Master’s University, with parking lots and additional housing units, received a two-year time extension by the Santa Clarita Planning Commission on Tuesday.
Planning Commission OK’s Extension of Proposed TMU Subdivision
It was the beach volleyball version of the give-and-go. TMU's Katie Emmerling knelt in the sand to dig an attack....
TMU Beach Volleyball: Another Strong Showing in Irvine
The Lady Cougars tennis program continues to win, this time in a home win defeating visiting Bakersfield College 7-2 on Thursday at the Cougar Courts.
Canyons Improves to 8-1 After Home Win vs. Bakersfield
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital will host its fourth annual CARE SCV, a Cancer Awareness & Resource Expo, at The Centre on Centre Pointe Parkway in Santa Clarita on Saturday, March 7, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
March 7: 4th Annual Cancer Awareness Expo at The Centre
Santa Clarita-based Mellady Direct Marketing is the Small Business of the Month for February 2020 in California's 21st Senate District, Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) announced Friday.
Wilk Honors Mellady Direct as Small Business of the Month
The Santa Clarita City Council Legislative Committee will hold its next public meeting at City Hall on Monday, February 24, starting at 3 p.m.
Agenda: City Council Legislative Committee Feb. 24 Meeting
A man who was contracted to work on former Rep. Katie Hill’s 2018 campaign for the 25th District Congressional Primary Election has been arrested by FBI agents on suspicion of cyberattacks on campaign websites.
Man Arrested for Cyberattacks in 2018 Congressional Race
After normal temperature readings for two days, KHTS co-owner Carl Goldman's fever returned Thursday night as he remains in quarantine in an infectious disease treatment center in Nebraska fighting the COVID-19 virus.
COVID-19 Update: KHTS Co-Owner’s Fever Flares, His Quarantine Starts Over
Santa Clarita Valley residents may or may not have felt a magnitude 3.5 earthquake that rolled through Castaic early Friday morning.
Early-Morning Magnitude 3.5 Earthquake Rolls Castaic
A temporary ban on new restaurant drive-thrus citywide could extend through January 2021 should the Santa Clarita City Council approve an urgency ordinance Tuesday.
City Council May Extend Ban on New Restaurant Drive-thrus
On March 4, California health clinics funded by federal grant dollars under the Title X family planning program must physically and financially sever abortion from the rest of their services under an abortion funding rule issued by the Health and Human Services Department.
California Asks Federal Judge to Block New Abortion Funding Rule
Taking aim at new Trump administration water rules that allow farmers to use more water from the state’s largest rivers, California claimed in a federal lawsuit Thursday that the rules fail to protect endangered fish species.
California Sues Trump Administration Over New Federal Water Rules
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies arrested a man and woman on multiple charges in Canyon Country late Monday night, officials reported Friday afternoon.
Deputies Arrest Couple in Canyon Country on Multiple Charges
1923 - Newhall Chamber of Commerce organized; Albert Swall elected president [story]
Albert Swall
The Lady Cougars defeated host Antelope Valley College 8-1 on Tuesday to pick up its third Western State Conference (WSC) victory.
Lady Cougars Defeat Antelope Valley in 3rd WSC Win
Saugus girls basketball’s 45-43 loss to Fairmont Prep in the CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA quarterfinals was a game of seconds.
Historic Lady Cents Basketball Season Comes to Heartbreaking End
The College of the Canyons Financial Aid Office has scheduled free financial aid application workshops throughout the Spring 2020 semester for students at the Valencia and Canyon Country campuses.
COC Offering Free Financial Aid Workshops Throughout Spring Semester
The Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture has received a multi-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to implement an innovative artist development initiative to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field of public art in LA County.
County Arts & Culture Investing New $1.75M Grant to Increase Diversity, Inclusion
The Santa Clarita Valley (SCV) Veg Fest, Santa Clarita’s first-ever plant & planet-friendly festival, just announced that the local WiSH Education Foundation will be the beneficiary of the proceeds from this year’s event.
WiSH Education Foundation Named Veg Fest’s 2020 Beneficiary
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced Thursday a historic $18.8 million settlement with Time Warner Cable LLC on behalf of more than 170,000 consumers throughout California who paid for internet speeds they did not receive.
District Attorney’s Office Reaches Historic $18.8M Settlement with Time Warner
A patient under the age of 18 in Saugus was transported via helicopter for medical treatment on Thursday afternoon.
Child Airlifted After Reportedly Suffering Seizure
After a man allegedly fled an enforcement stop Wednesday night that resulted in a car fire south of Calgrove Boulevard, he was arrested on suspicion of felony evading arrest, causing injury.
New York Resident Arrested After Allegedly Fleeing I5 Enforcement Stop
%d bloggers like this: