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George Holliday Dies at 61, Taped LAPD Beating of Rodney King

George Holliday, the plumber who fortuitously videotaped the nighttime traffic stop in which Los Angeles police officers beat the Black motorist Rodney G. King in 1991, an incident that led to a closely watched trial and nearly a week of deadly violence across the city after the officers were found not guilty, died on Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 61.

His friend Robert Wollenweber said the death, at a hospital, was caused by complications of Covid-19.

The grainy yet distinct video of four white officers assaulting a Black man is among the 20th century’s most recognized images, one that shocked many white Americans but confirmed what many Black Americans had already known about police treatment of them.

In the decades since, advancements in technology have allowed thousands to follow Mr. Holliday’s lead, recording numerous instances of police violence against people of color and forcing a recognition of what many say is systemic racism in the nation’s justice system.

Mr. Holliday was living in the Lake View Terrace section of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley, when, on March 3, 1991, he and his wife Maria were shaken awake by the sound of a helicopter flying low over their apartment complex. It was 12:45 a.m., and the two had been fast asleep, with plans to rise early to see a friend run in a local marathon.

To record his friend’s feat, Mr. Holliday had bought a Sony camcorder and was still learning to use it when he and his wife went to their balcony to see what was causing the commotion. Across the road, they saw several police officers approaching a vehicle from behind.

Mr. Holliday, sensing something important afoot, ran into his living room to get his video camera. While there he heard his wife shout, “Oh, my God!”

He returned to see four officers beating Mr. King on the ground. They kicked him, hit him with nightsticks and shocked him with a Taser before hogtying him and leaving him lying there until an ambulance arrived.

Read entire article at New York Times