Opening arguments began in the federal trial of four White police officers charged with beating Black motorist Rodney King.
1993 (Feb 25)
In Los Angeles, California, opening arguments began in the federal trial of four White police officers charged with beating Black motorist Rodney King. In this second trial, Stacey Koon, Theodore Briseno, Laurence Powell, and Timothy Wind faced charges of violating King's civil rights. Their first trial on criminal charges related to the same incident ended with acquittals on all but one charge. The verdicts triggered days of deadly rioting in Los Angeles and elsewhere throughout the country. The central issue in the federal case revolved around whether the officers had used excessive force and whether they intended to punish King. (If convicted, they faced up to $250,000 in fines and ten years in prison.) The federal trial was expected to follow along the same lines as the criminal trial with one difference—Rodney King himself was scheduled to take the stand for the first time and testify about his beating.