On April 13, 2012, Rodney King poses for a portrait in Los Angeles. The acquittal of four police officers in the videotaped beating of King sparked rioting that spread across the city and into neighboring suburbs. Cars were demolished and homes and businesses were burned. Before order was restored, 55 people were dead, 2,300 injured and more than 1,500 buildings were damaged or destroyed.(AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

Rodney King

In 1991, the world watched in horror as unarmed African-American motorist Rodney King was beaten by seven Los Angeles policemen, an act that was videotaped by a stranger and released to media outlets. The police, who claimed King was resisting arrest, though the videotape did not support this, were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by a jury, resulting in the L.A. Riots of 1992. In subsequent years, King suffered from alcoholism and trauma resulting from the beating, which was documented when he appeared on a season of reality show Celebrity Rehab.  On June 17, 2011, he was pronounced dead in Rialto, California after his fiancée found him at  the bottom of the couple's pool. King was 47 years old.