Rodney King’s Fiancee to 911: ‘I Heard Something Fall’
LOS ANGELES (CNN) — In a frantic 911 call early Sunday, Rodney King’s fiancee, Cynthia Kelley, described how she discovered King’s body at the bottom of his pool and made repeated efforts “to wake him up,” but there was no response to her efforts.
“I threw a shovel (into the water), but that didn’t wake him up … he’s at the bottom of the pool … oh my God!” a distraught Kelley sobbed to an emergency dispatcher in a recording of the 911 call released Tuesday.
Responding officers found King, 47, at the bottom of the pool, removed him and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation until paramedics arrived. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, police said.
Kelley told the 911 dispatcher she had heard the sound of a fall, rushed to the pool and saw King in the water.
“Please hurry, it’s Rodney King,” Kelley says in the recording. “He’s at the bottom of the pool. … I’m trying to wake him up because I don’t know how to swim,” she says as she cries.
“How old is he?” asks the dispatcher. “Rodney King, the guy who got beat by the police … he’s 47 years old, he’s not moving,” Kelley responds.
“I was sleeping, and I heard something fall like a table, and then I looked over and he was at the bottom of the pool,” Kelley says as she sobs. “He’s just floating at the bottom of the pool. … This is crazy, this is crazy, oh my God.”
The 911 call was made at 5:25 a.m. PT (8:25 a.m. ET) Sunday, according to Rialto Police Capt. Randy De Anda.
Kelley told investigators she had spoken to King, who was outside, through a sliding-glass door a short time earlier. She then heard a splash and ran out, De Anda said.
When police arrived, an unidentified officer jumped in the pool and pulled King’s body onto the deck, said De Anda. “There were no signs of life,” he said.
The officers attempted CPR, which was continued when paramedics arrived, he said. King was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, where he was pronounced dead at 6:11 a.m., he said.
A preliminary autopsy report was completed Monday, San Bernardino County Coroner spokeswoman Jody Miller said. The autopsy findings will not be released until toxicology tests are completed in six to eight weeks, Miller said.
There were no preliminary signs of foul play and no obvious injuries on King’s body, De Anda said. Police are conducting a drowning investigation, he said.
King, whose beating by Los Angeles police in March 1991 was caught on camera and sparked some of the deadliest riots in U.S. history, was 25 and on parole after a robbery conviction. In an interview in 2011, he recalled he had been drinking and was headed home from a friend’s house when he saw a police car following him and panicked, thinking he would be sent back to prison. So he attempted to flee.
“I had a job to go to that Monday, and I knew I was on parole, and I knew I wasn’t supposed to be drinking, and I’m like ‘Oh, my God,’ ” he told CNN.
Riots erupted after the acquittal of the four officers charged with assaulting King. The aftermath of the King beating forever changed Los Angeles, its Police Department and the dialogue of race relations in America.
The officers were later charged with violating King’s federal civil rights and two were eventually convicted. King was awarded $3.8 million dollars in a civil trial.
Kelley, who was a juror in King’s lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles in 1994, told police on Sunday that King was an “avid swimmer.”
King, who built the pool after purchasing his home in the city of Rialto, told CNN in an earlier interview he had inscribed two dates in the pool — March 3, the date of his beating; and April 29, the date the Los Angeles riots began — as a reminder of his troubled past.