George Holliday, the Los Angeles plumber who shot a grainy video of four white police officers beating black motorist Rodney King in 1991, has died from complications from COVID-19, a friend said Monday.
Holliday, 61, died Sunday in a Los Angeles hospital where he had been for more than a month, according to Robert Wollenweber, a longtime friend and former associate. Holliday was not vaccinated and had been given a ventilator in the past few days after pneumonia, Wollenweber said.
Holliday was awakened by a traffic stop outside his home in the San Fernando Valley on the night of March 3, 1991. He went outside to film it on his new video camera and caught Los Angeles officers beating, kicking and stuning King. even after he was on the ground.
A year later, Hollidays fuzzy footage – worth about 9 minutes – was an important piece of evidence in the criminal trial against the four officers for assault and excessive use of force.
When a jury acquitted all officers on April 29, 1992, widespread violence broke out in the city. Hundreds of shops were looted and destroyed over several days. Entire blocks and shops went up in flames. More than 60 people died from shootings or other acts of violence, mostly in South Los Angeles.
The uprising seemed to take the rest of the nation by surprise, but longtime residents said tensions had been building in South LA for years and the king’s verdict was just the turning point.
On the third day of the riot, King pleaded for silence on television and asked in a trembling voice, “Can we all get along?”
King sued Los Angeles for the beating and received $ 3.8 million in 1994, but he told The Associated Press in 2012 that he lost most of that money to bad investments. King drowned in his backyard swimming pool on June 17, 2012 at the age of 47.
Holliday’s death was first reported by TMZ.com.
Holliday put the Sony camcorder he used to record last July’s brawl up for auction, starting at $ 225,000. It was unclear if it was ever sold.
Holliday told the New York Times last year that he was still a plumber and had never benefited from the video.
He said he bought the camera about a month earlier and instinctively snapped it when he was woken by noises outside his window.
“You know what it’s like when you have new technology,” he told the Times. “You film everything and everyone.”
Holliday said in 2017 that he was working on a documentary about his role in the King case, but it was unclear whether that project would come off.
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