Man who filmed Rodney King beating dies at 61

Originally published at: Man who filmed Rodney King beating dies at 61 | Boing Boing


‘Why did people ever think that bodycams would lead to more accountability when the most famous video of police brutality led to so little?’

I can’t tell if you are just trying to be provocative or if you were just too young to have really understood the moment in time when this video was filmed.

Minority groups in LA and elsewhere were acutely aware of how the police brutalized them but this issue, for the most part, flew under the radar for folks who were not in the police cross hairs. When this video , the trials, and the lack of appropriate accountability from that trial was plastered all over the evening news for months, it shined a super bright light on this issue which increased awareness.

So while not much may have changed since that day in 1991, this and other footage of police brutality is partly why there is so much good organized activism focused on this issue today.



details from the article:

  • He was not vaccinated.
  • He’d tried to auction off the camera he took the video with - unclear if it sold
  • He tried to get a documentary off the ground about ‘his role’ in the incident - doc never happened.
  • He said he was still working as a plumber and had not made any money off the video

The picture (admittedly very ungenerously) formed in my head is that of a typical working class white dude who is resentful that his part in a huge national incident did NOT lead to fame and fortune as promised on the tee-vee, grew resentful of all the people for whom it did (including King), and fell into Fox News to have his resentment confirmed and fed, and lo and behold, he didn’t get vaxxed and now here we are.

I realize I am making ENORMOUS assumptions and outright guesses and that this is entirely a product of my own prejudices and biases.

But I still don’t think I’m wrong.

Or maybe it’s a rhetorical question.


Well yeah. I’m just saying it is potentially rooted in ignorance or purposeful provocation. It’s just a bad take.

A lot has changed since then. Black folks and other minorities are still targets for the police but it’s no longer something that occurs only in the shadows, beyond the view of the general population.

Also, comparing police body cams to an incident that was filmed by a bystander with his own recording equipment isn’t a great comparison. If anything, we should be comparing to how citizens documenting police behavior with their personal phones has changed this landscape.


Okay, but I read the point being more that what HASN’T changed much is that many similar instances of abuse (and murder) still happen, with little to no accountability for LEO’S. That’s not a “bad take.”


The Office GIF

An AP review of internal investigative records and newly obtained videos identified at least a dozen cases over the past decade in which Louisiana State Police troopers or their bosses ignored or concealed evidence of beatings, deflected blame and impeded efforts to root out misconduct.

The location might be different, but cops all over the US are still constantly trying to bury misconduct.


I agree with your take as well. No disagreement there. Folks are still being killed and the police still go mostly unpunished and that sucks.

The difference between a whole population suffering in silence pre 1991 vs what exists today, that is a significant improvement…even if not ideal.

Your examples are all ways that misconduct has come to light. Ideally they would never have occurred in the first place or if they did, the officers should have been appropriately punished. Pre 1991, this stuff wouldn’t even have made the news.


Bumbling cops =/= citizen cleverness.


Why did people ever think that bodycams would lead to more accountability when the most famous video of police brutality led to so little?

Because there is a tipping point when the public is going to realize brutality is the norm, not the exception and calls for accountability have been steadily rising.

No one ever changed anything with one act or exposure. It was the one act or exposure that finally enacted change after standing on the shoulders of everything before it.


That’s not a point I was trying to make.

This shit sucks on many levels still to this very day. Dismissing police body cams and citizen documentarians as ineffectual is not a good take. That is the only point I’m trying to make.

But that’s not the take. The take @beschizza presented is lack of effective prosecution, because most DA’s and cops are peas from the same pod.

ETA: As the last few years with BLM have shown us, Black folks are not getting a fair shake, even when there’s footage as evidence.


I suspect it is very hard to get accurate statistics teased out with regard to how much police body cams actually reduce police misconduct. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that on paper police misconduct increased dramatically as a result of body cams, simply because there might be so much more documentary evidence of it. I would also not be surprised if in reality police misconduct were dramatically reduced by police body cams, even if prosecution of bad cops hasn’t increased, simply because cops, like everyone, do not want to even get in minor trouble. That cops are trying to cover up body cams, seems to me to be evidence that they work, not that they don’t work. But as I said, there isn’t any way to prove that so I could be completely wrong and everything is hopeless.

May I humbly suggest that if you’re going to report on the death of someone, you report the cause of death as well?

He died of Covid and was unvaccinated.


TIL: The FBI didn’t return the camera to Holliday until 2015, at which point it no longer worked.

That makes me think people should carry around a separate sacrificial camera for recording police brutality rather than risk losing access to their smartphone for decades.

It seems to me the camera should probably go to the Smithsonian, to be used in a future exhibit about how Americans turned the tools of surveillance back on the authorities in order to restore government of, by, and for the people–all the people. We’re not there yet, but I hope we will be someday soon. That camera would make a good symbol for the moment that consumer technology began to empower everyone to shine light on brutality and racism that would otherwise have been overlooked.


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