In the tense moments after finding Rodney King at the bottom of a pool at his Rialto, California, home, his fiancée, Cynthia Kelley, dialed 911 and urged responders to help her save the 47-year-old after she was unable to rouse him, recently released 911 tapes reveal.
"I threw a shovel (into the water), but that didn't wake him up ... he's at the bottom of the pool ... oh my God!" Kelley cried to the emergency dispatcher in the calls released Tuesday.
Investigators are still working to piece together an account of what happened in the hours leading up to King’s drowning early Sunday. Kelley told officers at the scene that King was outside most of the night, and she rushed to the poolside after hearing him knock on a window and then heard a splash.
"I was sleeping, all of a sudden I heard something fall like the table and then I looked over and then I went to find him and he's at the bottom of the swimming pool. He's still there. Please hurry up," she told the dispatcher.
However straightforward Kelley’s story, questions still remain. Throughout his life, King struggled with substance abuse issues that were illuminated by his thrust into the spotlight following his infamous arrest and the impact it had on the 1992 L.A. riots after officers in his beating were acquitted. An autopsy was performed Monday, and officials say King's cause of death will not be made public until the completion of toxicology tests in six to eight weeks.
"Even though we're investigating this as an accidental drowning, we're looking into every lead," said Officer David Shephard, a police spokesman told reporters. "The information that we are receiving from the fiancée, suicide is probably most likely not a factor in this drowning."
The L.A. Times reports that a next-door neighbor's account of what happened casts doubt on Kelley’s version of the story.
According to the paper, Sandra Gardea, 31, said music was playing in King’s backyard and she could hear a man sobbing from about 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday morning. Gardea also said she heard Kelley trying convince King to come back inside the house.
"It wasn't like an argument. She was just saying, 'Get in the house. Get in the house,'" Gardea said.
Then, Gardea said, she heard a splash.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)