17 June 2012
Last updated at 18:43
In 1991, footage of Rodney King being beaten by four police officers caused outrage around the world. King's white Hyundai car had been stopped by traffic officers of the Los Angeles Police Department after a high-speed chase on 3 March 1991. A man who had stepped outside his home to observe the commotion videotaped the incident and supplied a copy to a local TV station.
Four officers - Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno and Stacey Koon - were filmed beating Mr King. The LAPD said the officers had acted in self-defence to restrain King, who they said was aggressive and resisting arrest. Prosecutors later dismissed all charges against King. On 15 March 1991, the four officers were charged with assault.
All four officers in the case were cleared of assault after a trial in April 1992. Within hours, violence erupted in Los Angeles. Fifty-five people were killed in several days of rioting, looting and retaliatory attacks against white and Asian people. About 2,000 people were injured, and another 12,000 arrested.
The Los Angeles riots raged for six days. More than $1bn worth of property was damaged and the National Guard was deployed to help police restore order.
A few days after the start of the riots Rodney King himself held a press conference to call for end of violence in the city. In the televised appeal, he urged calm, saying: "Can we all get along?"
In 1993, the four acquitted police officers faced a second trial on federal charges of violating Rodney King's civil rights. Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell were found guilty and received 30 month jail terms; Timothy Wind and Theodore Briseno were cleared.
Rodney King was awarded $3.8m in damages from the City of Los Angeles. He used some of the money to found a rap record business, Alta-Pazz Recording Company. Twenty years after the riots Mr King published his autobiography: The Riot Within: My Journey From Rebellion to Redemption.