King, along with Bryant Allen and Freddie Helms, took Los Angeles police on a high-speed chase in an attempt to escape police. He was driving under the influence of alcohol and a DUI would violate his parole for a previous robbery conviction. LAPD officers Stacey Koon, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, Rolando Solano, and Theodore Briseno were first to arrive at the scene following the end of the chase.
Bryant Allen was manhandled, stomped, kicked, taunted, and threatened and Freddie Helms was struck on the top of his head while laying on the ground, while King remained in the vehicle. When King stepped out, he was laughing. King then patted the ground and waved to the police helicopter overhead. Officer Melanie Singer, who had begun chasing King’s vehicle on Interstate 210, saw King reach for his buttocks, prompting her to draw her pistol and demand King lie on the ground. At this point, Officer Koon, who was the ranking officer at the scene, told Singer the LAPD was taking over tactical command of the situation, then ordered Powell, Wind, Solano, and Briseno to cuff King using a swarm technique. King resisted the officers and stood up to remove Briseno and Powell from his back. Officers later testified they believed King to be under the influence of PCP.
Koon struck King with his Taser, sending him to the ground. King then got up and collided with Powell, prompting the officer to start beating King with is baton and knocking him back to the ground. Briseno stopped Powell from striking King again. Koon ordered the further usage of batons, telling the officers to use “power strokes.” Police batons hit King 33 times, added to several kicks he received from the eight officers who swarmed him. King was then put in handcuffs and cordcuffs, restraining his arms and legs. Officers dragged him on his abdomen to the side of the road.
The officers involved were acquitted, resulting in the 1992 Los Angeles Riots.
Los Angeles, California
March 3, 1991