* Updated post
Rodney King's fiancee called for help about 5:25 this morning, saying he was at the bottom of their swimming pool in the city of Rialto.
Police officers removed King from the pool and attempted to revive him. He was pronounced dead at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. There were no preliminary signs of foul play, Rialto police said, and no obvious injuries. Police are conducting a drowning investigation. An autopsy would be performed by the San Bernardino County coroner.
The fiancee, Cynthia Kelley, had been a juror in King's lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles in 1994.
According to TMZ, Kelley is telling friends that King was at the house all day Saturday drinking, "and he smoked marijuana at some point, before she went to bed at 2:00 AM."
We're told Kelley says she next saw King at around 5:00 AM when she was awoken by him screaming in the backyard. Our sources say Kelley found King naked, banging on the glass, and she called out to him, "What's wrong, Rodney?"
Kelley is telling friends she then went to grab her phone when she heard a big splash. She then went to the backyard and discovered him in the bottom of the pool and called police.
King is the motorist who was beaten by a squad of Los Angeles Police Department officers while pulled over in Lake View Terrace, in the LAPD's Foothill division, in 1991. A neighbor's videotape of the assault on King led to the officers' prosecution. Their acquittal by a jury in Simi Valley sparked the 1992 riots in Los Angeles and elsewhere.
King was drunk at the time of the beating and continued to have issues with drinking and substance abuse. Last July Riverside County sheriff's booked King on suspicion of driving under the influence in Moreno Valley.
Before the 20th anniversary of the riots in April, HarperOne published King's memoir,
"The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption. Learning How We Can All Get Along." He appeared on a panel at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in April and gave numerous media interviews about his life since the beating and riots. He said at the time that he had trouble finding work and was essentially broke.
The Times has posted an excerpt from one of the interviews:
“You don't want to let anybody's expectations down. People look at me like I should have been like Malcolm X or Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks. I should have seen life like that and stay out of trouble, and don't do this and don't do that. But it's hard to live up to some people's expectations, which [I] wasn't cut out to be. I didn't go to school to be 'Rodney King' and [be] beat up by cops and thrust into the limelight. It's taken years to get used to the situation I'm in in life and the weight it holds. One of the cops in the jail [in a later encounter] said: You know what? People are going to know who you are when you're dead and gone. A hundred years from now, people are still going to be talking about you. It's scary, but at the same time, it's a blessing."
Cartoon by Steve Greenberg from the early 1990s. Mug shot from King's arrest last year.