The limits of videotape: An echo of Rodney King

The limits of videotape: An echo of Rodney King

Many people are understandably outraged that a New York police officer who fatally choked Eric Garner was not indicted by a grand jury for his death. But anyone who knows what happened in the Rodney King case should not be surprised that an amateur videotape of Garner’s arrest did not result in his indictment.

What everyone remembers about the African-American King, because it’s so hard to forget, are videotaped images of him being brutally beaten by white Los Angeles Police Department officers. Four of the officers were promptly indicted. After an appeals court moved their trial out of Los Angeles to neighboring and police-friendly Simi Valley, the officers were acquitted. The acquittals triggered the deadly Los Angeles riots of April 1992.

But that is not close to the full story of the King arrest.

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