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Rodney Kings death determined to be by accidental drowning

OW Staff | 8/22/2012, 5 p.m.

Rodney King, who survived a brutal beating by Los Angeles police in 1991 and years later became a reluctant symbol of law enforcement brutality, died of accidental drowning, according to a report from the San Bernardino County coroner's office.

King, 47, was found dead in his swimming pool at his home in Rialto, Calif., on June 17 by his fiancée Cynthia Kelley. Kelley said she phoned Rialto police for help at 5:25 a.m. According to reports, they removed he body and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation until paramedics arrived. King was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Kelley she was unable to rescue King because she was not a proficient swimmer.

The coroner's report said, King "was in a state of drug- and alcohol-induced delirium at the time of the terminal event and either fell or jumped into the swimming pool." The autopsy and toxicology tests indicated that alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and PCP were found in his system.
King had a history of alcohol and drug use, but many assumed he had overcome struggles with the substances.

"The effect of the drugs and alcohol, combined with the subject's heart condition, probably precipitated a cardiac arrhythmia and the subject, thus incapacitated, was unable to save himself and drowned," said the summary of the report. "There is nothing in the history or autopsy examination to suggest suicide or homicide, and the manner of death is therefore judged to be accident."

According to the Los Angeles Times, police said when they showed up at the residence "there were no 'outward signs' of alcohol or drug use that may have caused King to fall into the pool. Investigators responding to the incident confiscated what appeared to marijuana plants from King's home.

"Police said King's body showed no signs of trauma, and no traces of blood were round on the concrete pool or deck," said the Times. "He was dressed in swim trunks when police officers pulled him from the water."