Can You Handle The Truth: Comparing George Floyd, Rodney King Trials Shows Vastly Different Outcomes
Speaker 1: 00:00 Video and police abuse played key roles, both in the Derek Shovin trial and in the one involving four Los Angeles police officers and Rodney King nearly three decades ago. But the outcomes were vastly different PolitiFact, California reporter Chris Nichols spoke with anchor Mike Haggerty about the two cases in this weeks. Can you handle the truth segment, Speaker 2: 00:24 Chris, remind us what the officers were accused of doing to Rodney King. Speaker 3: 00:28 Well, CHP officers pulled over King who was black for speeding on a Los Angeles freeway back in 1991. And King tried to elude officers, but eventually stopped near an apartment complex from there for Los Angeles police department officers, three white one Latino took charge of the traffic stop and they were captured on video kicking and beating King dozens of times after he was on the ground. The video sparked outrage across the country, but in the trial the next year, the officers were acquitted of almost all charges, including felony assault. And by contrast this week, Minneapolis police officer Derek Shovan was convicted on all counts, including second degree murder in the death of George Floyd. Speaker 2: 01:18 We saw a great sense of relief among many community members after the Shovan verdict, but that wasn't the case after the trial involving Rodney King. Speaker 3: 01:27 That's right after the acquittals in 1992, there were five days of rioting in Los Angeles and more than 50 deaths that included 10 people shot and killed by LAPD officers and national guardsmen, more than 2000 were injured. There was widespread destruction in South Los Angeles where residents set fires and destroyed grocery and liquor stores and other shops. Yes, Speaker 2: 01:53 I spoke with Sacramento state criminal justice, professor Shelby Moffett about the Shovan case and the case from 1992. What did he have to say? Speaker 3: 02:02 Moffitt is a professor who also spent 20 years as a police officer in Sacramento. Here's what he told me about. The two trials. Speaker 4: 02:11 The outcome of the Rodney King trial had a lot to do with the outcome of this trial. Let's say if you had had this trial dirt children's trial in 1992, you might've had a similar outcome because people were not ready to make the change. Then Speaker 3: 02:28 In both trials, Moffitt said defense attorneys tried to put the victims on trial to assassinate their character. Speaker 4: 02:35 Sure. They said very similar things at Rhonda King was in his drown that he was a black man, that he was big. That if he got up, we were scared of him. And these are the tropes that have been used for several hundred years. Speaker 2: 02:49 One of the differences in the trials was the makeup. The juries tell us about that. Speaker 3: 02:54 Oh, the jury in the Shovan trial was more diverse. Six were white, four black and two identify as multiracial in 1992, the trial was moved to Simi Valley, uh, nearly all white city, almost 30 miles from where the beating of Rodney King took place. The court decided it might not receive a fair trial in Los Angeles due to all the publicity that jury ended up with no black people and only two people of color. Speaker 2: 03:25 Finally, Chris, there were eventually federal charges brought against the officers for violating King's civil rights. What happened with those Speaker 3: 03:33 Two officers were convicted on those charges and sentenced to two and a half years in prison. The other two were acquitted and nine years ago, King not long after releasing a memoir, tragically drowned in his own backyard pool. He was 47 years old. Speaker 1: 03:54 That was cap radio's PolitiFact, California reporter Chris Nichols speaking with anchor Mike Haggerty.