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Rodney King pleads guilty to reckless driving, ordered into sobriety program

From Stan Wilson
updated 4:52 PM EST, Tue February 28, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rodney King will serve 20 days home detention and wear an ankle bracelet
  • Authorities dropped two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence
  • King's 1991 beating by Los Angeles police left him with brain and kidney damage

Riverside, California (CNN) -- Rodney King, whose videotaped beating by police led to the 1992 Los Angeles riots, pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor reckless driving in connection with his arrest in Moreno Valley last summer on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Under a plea agreement, King was sentenced to 20 days home detention and ordered to wear an ankle bracelet to monitor his movement. Authorities agreed to drop two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence, although King was fined $500, ordered to complete a nine-month sobriety education program and placed on three years probation, according to John Hall, spokesman for the Riverside County district attorney.

King entered his plea through a court appointed public defender and was not present during the hearing.

In July, King was driving a 1994 Mitsubishi when he was pulled over by a traffic officer in Moreno Valley, about 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Following his July arrest, King told CNN he was under the influence of a "medical marijuana prescription" but denied driving while intoxicated.

According to Riverside County prosecutors, King's blood alcohol reading was 0.06 percent, which is below the 0.08 legal limit in California.

"He was driving while intoxicated and found to have a measurable amount of alcohol in his system. However, we believe we would have been unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury that his blood-alcohol content was 0.08 percent or higher," Hall said. King did not respond to calls for comment.

King's 1991 beating by Los Angeles police officers after a traffic stop left him with skull fractures and brain and kidney damage. It was captured on video by a nearby resident, and four officers were indicted as a result. Their trial the following year led to three acquittals and a mistrial in the predominantly white suburb of Simi Valley, verdicts that set off three days of riots in African-American neighborhoods.

By the time it was over, 55 people were dead, more than 2,000 were hurt, and property damage exceeded $1 billion. Two of the officers were later convicted of federal civil rights charges, and King won $3.8 million in damages from the city in a civil suit.

King was on parole for robbery at the time of the beating and has had several run-ins with the law in the ensuing years. He served a 90-day jail term in 1996 for a hit-and-run involving his wife at the time, and he pleaded guilty in 2004 to reckless driving and driving under the influence of a controlled substance.

In March, he was cited for driving without a license after being pulled over in Arcadia, California.

In a 2011 CNN documentary, King spoke to CNN's Don Lemon about his struggle with alcohol abuse. "I'll always have an issue when it comes to alcohol. My dad was an alcoholic, the addiction part is in my blood," King said. "What I've learned to do is to arrest my addiction. Arrest it myself, so I don't get arrested."

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