Rodney King to marry juror who secured his $3.8m court pay-out

It was an emblematic case of police brutality and racism, which ignited America and prompted almost a week of violent rioting. Yet, after 19 years and a multi-million dollar payout, divorce and a stint on reality TV, there might just be some kind of happy ending for Rodney King.

King, who in 1991 was the victim of a brutal beating by Los Angeles police officers, is reported to be marrying one of the jurors who ensured he got a $3.8m (£2.5m) settlement.

His case sparked major riots in LA in 1992, when the police officers involved in the assault were acquitted. The riots resulted in 53 deaths, and several blocks of the city were torched, causing an estimated $1bn of damage.

But out of the rubble, a romance emerged. Cynthia Kelley, one of King's jurors in his successful 1994 compensation case, had pushed to award King a $3.8m payout. She told website this week that "during deliberations, the other jurors said, 'Let's just award him $100,000, you know he's just gonna blow it anyway', but she had stood firm. Kelley was the only black member of the jury. After the trial, the pair conducted a secret relationship. But things didn't work out and the couple lost contact – until King, 44, rang Kelley out the blue four months ago and rekindled their romance.

The couple have now revealed just how quickly after the trial the initial spark was lit. "Our first date was the next day after the trial when Rodney's lawyer and Rodney met me in a local pizzeria in Newport Beach," Kelley told Radar. At the time, both King and Kelley were married, although they both later got divorced.

Despite their swift attraction, the couple separated when King took part in a reality TV show. Having battled with alcohol and drug addiction, King appeared on the VH1 show, Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. But four months ago, the couple patched things up when King telephoned Kelley to ask if she was still single.

"We hadn't spoken to each other for many years, and it just so happened that we reconnected," Kelley is quoted as saying. "It was like we were never apart from one another."

The assault took place in 1991, when King, a taxi driver, was dragged out of his vehicle by four white police officers, following a car chase through the San Fernando Valley. He was repeatedly kicked, punched and beaten with clubs at the side of the road. A passing amateur cameraman captured the assault on video, which was later shown on national television. The footage inflamed the American public when it was aired.

At a trial the following year, the four officers were all acquitted. The decision prompted outrage across LA, and six nights of rioting followed. King made a tearful television appearance during the riots, appealing for the violence to stop: "Can't we all just get along, can we stop making it horrible for the older people and the kids?"

When King later sued the city of Los Angeles he was awarded the $3.8m in damages, although it is thought that more than half the money went on legal fees.

The on-off couple are now engaged to be married, although a date has yet to be set. King called Kelley "a godsend, a blessing in my life" in the Radar interview. "I don't know what I would have done without her in my life... I can't wait to make her my wife!"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk