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L.A.'s darkest days

Ten years ago today, the worst race riot in US history erupted in Los Angeles. Here, the story is told in three diverse lives.

(Page 7 of 7)



Latasha Harlins, 15, is shot dead by Soon Ja Du in a dispute over a bottle of orange juice. Incident captured on security camera tape.

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Investigation of LAPD begins April 1, 1991

Saying the King beating has led to a "crisis in confidence," Mayor Bradley appoints prominent diplomat Warren Christopher to head police probe.

Christopher Commission report on LAPD July 9, 1991

Report says a pattern of racism and excessive force exists within the LAPD. Recommends limiting tenure of police chief.

Jury convicts Korean grocer Oct. 11, 1991

Soon Ja Du is convicted of voluntary manslaughter. In November, he receives five years of probation.

King beating trial moved Nov. 26, 1991

New venue is a largely white community of Ventura County.

Willie Williams named LAPD chief April 16, 1992

First black LAPD chief will succeed Chief Gates.

Rodney King beating trial ends April 29, 1992

Jury acquits four police officers of most charges.

Riots erupt April 29-May 2, 1992

News of the police acquittals sparks four days of violence causing 55 deaths, 2,300-plus injuries, and $1 billion in damage. The beating of white trucker Reginald Denny by black rioters is televised live. National Guard, Army, and Marines are called in.

Federal investigation and rebuilding begin May 2, 1992

US Justice Department begins civil rights probe of police in King beating. Mayor Bradley announces "Rebuild L.A." a highly touted public-private effort that fizzles within five years.

Four blacks arrested for Denny beating May 12, 1992

Of the two eventually convicted, one receives a 10-year prison sentence, the other is given 27 months of probation.

Webster Commission report Oct. 21, 1992

Headed by former FBI Director William Webster, the panel says LAPD and city government were caught "flat-footed" by the riots; calls for reforms.

Police officers convicted in King beating April 17, 1993

A federal jury convicts two officers of violating Rodney King's civil rights.They eventually are sentenced to 30 months in prison. Two other officers are acquitted.

Rodney King awarded $3.8 million civil award April 1994
O.J. Simpson saga June 1994-Oct. 1995

The black former football star's wife and her friend are stabbed to death. Simpson's protracted trial exposed one former LAPD detective as a lying racist and deeply split the US public along racial lines in the way it views the nation's law enforcement system. Though L.A. was tense in anticipation of the verdict, Simpson was acquitted and there was no unrest.

LAPD chief change May 1997

Chief Willie Williams is not reappointed after first term. His successor, Bernard Parks is L.A.'s second black police chief.

LAPD Rampart scandal 1999

Alleged beatings, robberies, and the framing and abuse of suspects in an elite antigang unit trigger a federal investigation, police convictions, and a consent decree.

LAPD Chief Parks resigns, blacks outraged April 2002

The Police Commission earlier rejected a second five-year term for Parks. Mayor James Hahn angered the African-Americans by opposing the reappointment of the black chief.

Sources: Wire services, Rand Corp., Christian Science Monitor archives.

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