Heaven has a new angel because Rodney Glen King passed away early Sunday morning. People have mourned his death, but you almost have to wonder if this is exactly how he would have wanted to go – drunk, high and stumbling incoherently into a pool.
Before the videotaped beating that would make him a star, Rodney had his first major brush with the law in 1989 when he robbed a Korean store owner and threatened to beat him with an iron bar. Being a humanitarian, he decided to only beat him with a pole. He was sentenced to two years in the joint for the robbery, but he got out after only serving one.
A year later he was driving drunk and speeding, but he didn’t want to pull over because he was afraid a DUI would violate his probation and get him sent back to prison. He then did what any reasonable person would and led police on a high-speed pursuit.
When he finally stopped, he got out, started giggling and waved at the police helicopter overhead. Thinking he was high on PCP the cops swarmed him, but he initially fought them off. It was then they decided to Taser him and play piñata with his head as he was lying on the ground.
Rodney King was always a reluctant civil rights figure, and he said he resented the way black leaders tried to use him to enrich themselves. They didn’t care he was an addict who needed help; they only saw him as a commodity to exploit. And when the cops who beat him were acquitted, and LA erupted into flames, you got a glimpse of the real man. The guy who was beaten called for calm and asked everyone to get along.
Rodney King wasn’t the hero some have made him out to be, but he didn’t seem like a terrible person, either. Sure he was a drug addict and a drunk. He even drove his car into a house and robbed the occasional Korean, but who hasn’t?
It would have been easy for him to play the part of the bitter race-baiter like Al Sharpton. He could have cast himself as the victim who blamed all his troubles on everyone else. He didn’t. He recognized he was a guy with serious problems who got thrust onto the national stage, and he always refused to play the part that politicians and pressure groups wanted.
Now that he’s dead, hopefully he’ll find the peace that always eluded him in life. That’s unless they have 40s and PCP in heaven. Then I fully expect him to just get drunk and high and drive his little cloud-car into someone’s house.