Rodney Glen King Traffic Violation Essay

In 1991 March 3rd, Rodney Glen King lead police on a high speed chase through the city of Los Angeles. It all started when California highway patrol officer noticed King speeding in the freeway. King was intoxicated and also on probation, for this reason he did not pull over when the officer turn on his siren. Rodney was under the influence of PCP but was never prosecuted for it, because of the way the arrest occurred. Instead, this simple traffic violation lead to a high speed chase on the freeway.

As the chase continued, King “exited the freeway near the Hansen Dam Recreation Center and the pursuit continued through residential surface streets, at speeds ranging from 55 to 80 miles per hour (89 to 129 km/h)”(Stevenson, 1991). This is a dangerous speed in a neighborhood where children roam and play in the streets. The chase went on a bit longer, and several LAPD managed to trap king at an intersection. At this point King knew he was trapped the car chase was over. Officer order everyone out of the car, that is when two people came out, Bryant Allen and Freddie Helms, leaving one more person in the car, Roney Glen King.

Allen and Helms were treated roughly as the officers apprehended them. King says that’s one of the reason why he hesitated to come out. King finally stepped out of the vehicle and officers moved in for the arrest. Among these officers were Stacey Koon, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno, and Rolando Solano. Officers Koon, Powell, Wind, and Briseno were the key subject in a prosecution case that followed this incident. At this point, the high speed chase was over and officers were moving in to make the arrest.

The events that followed would change policies, laws, and police training for the years to come. Officers had trouble putting King in handcuffs, allegedly, and the officers claimed King was resisting arrest. They began to use force, while a nearby stander was recording the whole incident. The bystander was out on the porch recording once they notice the officers continuing to beat on king. The footage showed King on the ground being beat by multiple cops with buttons while also getting tased by a stun gun. The relentless beating went on for minutes but to King those minutes seem like an eternity.

The disturbing part of this video was that King was not clearly not resisting arrest, in fact he was only moving to shield himself from the blows the officers were delivering. Every time the officers would hit King he would flinch because of the pain and officers took those movements as resisting arrest. The officers continued for several minutes delivering blows to the “Head, elbows, knees, ankle, basily my joints”(Wallace, 2016). The beating eventually stopped and and they proceeded to hog tie King. When the officers were calling the ambulance the recording showed the officer laugh while he gave the location.

King was then taken to the hospital with with a fractured skull ankle and knee. King said he felt like “he was on the verge of death”(Wallace, 2016), which sounds like the truth with a broken skull and all. Rodney’s face was swollen from left to right, his eyes so puffy you can hardly see his eyes. Rodney King filed charges against the officers while suing the city at the same time. The five officers, Stacey Koon, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno, and Rolando Solano, were taken to court soon after the incident. The Officers were acquitted of all charges, the community was furious with the outcome of the case.

Protesters immediately took to the street in light of recent court decisions. The Protest did not stay peaceful for long and soon there was all out violence and crime throughout the city of Los Angeles. The black community started attacking anyone who was not black pulling. For instance, “Reginald Denny, a white truck driver, was dragged from his truck and severely beaten by several angry rioters”(Staff, 1992). Throwing rock at other race people and even pulling them out of their cars for a quick beatdown for no apparent fault of the victim. Meanwhile the chief of police was attending a fundraiser on the other side of Los Angeles.

As the night came the crime start to escalate with random fire by the dozen spread throughout the city. The ironic thing is these violent protester were not burning government buildings or officers houses, instead they were burning small business of people in the struggling community. By nightfall mayor Bradley declared a “state of emergency asking california governor to send two thousand national guardsmen”(Medina,2012). Violence, fires, looting, and deaths continued to increase throughout the night. Violence spread throughout major cities in the US. Among them was Seattle, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Atlanta.

The following day violence continued even though the national guard was there. Much controversy was on the issue if the national guard should use live ammunition. The National guard decided not to and the riots continued to spread. That same day Rodney king went in front of camera and plead with the citizen of Los Angles and and cities throughout the nation to keep the peace, using the famous quote “can’t we just all get along”(Medina, 2016). That same day President Bush senior deployed five thousand United States soldiers. That night violence and mayhem began to decrease.

Bush senior also said stated that the officers involved in the Rodney King incident could be charged with federal civil rights charges. By the next day the riots had stopped leaving Los Angeles in ruins. The three day riot had caused “thirty seven deaths one thousand three hundred injuries, three thousand arrest, and property damage value around two hundred million dollars”(Wallace,2016). The four officers went to federal court and were convicted on multi charges. Koon and Powell were the key figure in the federal civil rights charges. They were sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

For a cop this can be a long time especially if you put some of those people away in that prison. Still many people felt that Rodney King was a victim of police brutality, but many thought it was unfair to the officers after already going to trial once. Many people thought it violated the double jeopardy clause of the bill of rights. The double jeopardy states that no person shall “be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb” (Amar and Marcus, 1995). There was a lot of confusion from the people on this issue, but for the Rodney King supporter this was fantastic news.

The Supreme Court’s dual sovereignty doctrine provides that two different governments’ laws by definition cannot describe the “same offence(Amar and Marcus, 1995). So state and federal laws are based on two different type of constitutions, even though both constitutions are almost identical. Although uncommon this types of case do occur, especially when it’s a high profile case or the prosecutor want a conviction. Race is undoubtedly one of the key motivators behind these roit and historic event. All officers being white and Rodney king being black stirred between all enforcement and the community.

Citizen today see this see this type of behavior on Television to often, a white cop killing or abusing a african american is part of the everyday news. Now not all incidents happen the way the new reports, because when they are reporting these stories there is still an investigation happening on to what took place. Regardless, racism is still alive to this day, but generalizing a group of people helps fuels the racism. If the people would look at events on a case to case bases things racism would not get so much attention. For instance, when a officer shoot an unarmed black man, it’s one bad cop not a ace thing.

Society would move in a much better direction if they would look at tragedies on a case to case bases. Another example would be black lives matter organization, the intentionally separated themselves into a group of victims. The smarter thing to do is name the organization all lives matter, including all people even alongside the black community. Although, as far as the officers in the Rodney King incident those action did appear to be race motivated. Offiercs car to car conversation suggested racist attitudes. On top of that the jury that were deciding the four officers future were all white.

However nothing concrete ever suggested that the jury ruled the way they did because of race but it was oddly suspicious. The jury insisted that on the evidence provided supported the officer’s claims on resisting arrest. One of the jury members wanted to hear Rodney side of the incident, but the prosecution for some reason felt that it was not a good idea. That decision could have changed the outcome of this case and stop the violence that occurred after the ruling. Although the riots were a very destructive ordeal, some good came out of it.

In the aftermath when the violence and looting had finally settled down Los Angeles and many parts of the nation felt like it was at a fresh start. Like people had somewhat of an understanding going through that ordeal. The courts and law enforcement were made aware that the citizen will not stand for injustice and will retaliate . They also made the powers at be know that, the people are in charge not them. This movement brought cities to a halt throughout the nation. Landmark policies and police training changed for the better, and the community and nation felt like they were coming together once again.

It was an amazing thing the way a community can come together to help clean up and rebuild Los Angeles. Although it did have to go through destruction to finally come together. Many year after the riots and bad publicity, Rodney King “soon after releasing his memoir “The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption, drowned face down in his backyard swimming pool at the age of forty seven” (Press,2017). In retrospect Rodney King was the figurehead of a large scale outcry from the minority community and is looked at as a humble hero through many eyes.