The Rodney King Beating (LAPD Officers') Trial: In Their Own Words
"I was scared of going back to prison and I just kind of thought the problem would just go away."
--Rodney King explaining why he led officers on a high-speed chase (trial testimony)
"I know if he gets hold of me and grabs me in the's going to be like a death grip, and you can have all 8,300 members of this police department pull this guy off and it's not going to work."
--Officer Laurence Powell describing to Internal Affairs his fear in confronting King
"It's like he's [King's] looking at me, doesn't see me, he's just looking right through me."
--Sgt. Stacey Koon describing to Internal Affairs investigators why he thought King was on PCP
"When [King] cut loose, he hit me in the chest and I see Powell flying off his side.  I don't know what's going on...but I'm thinking, man, this sucker is on something.  This is a bad ass."
--Officer Theodore Briseno (Cannon, Official Negligence)
"I haven't beaten anyone this bad in a long time."
--Officer Laurence Powell (MDT message from Powell to another officer)
"This is great!  They got it on tape!  Now we'll have a live, in-the-field film to show police recruits.  It can be a real life example of how to use escalating force properly."
--Sergeant Stacey Koon (Koon, Presumed Guilty)
"Television used the tape like wallpaper."
--Ed Turner, Vice President of CNN (Cannon, Official Negligence)
"It was a very, very extreme use of force--extreme for any police department in America.  But for the LAPD, considered by many to be the finest, most professional police department in the world, it was more than extreme.  It was impossible."
--Police Chief Daryl Gates after watching Holliday video
"I have seen uses of force with considerable violence, but I have not seen anything that is as violent as this in my fourteen and a half years."
--Sgt. Stacey Koon (testimony)
"You wanted to hit him [King] in the head, didn't you?"
--Prosecutor Terry White cross-examining Officer Powell 
"I saw the blood come out of his face.  I heard the driver [King] scream.  There is no doubt in my mind that he [Powell] hit Mr. King repeatedly in the face.  I will never forget it to the day I die."
--CHP Officer Melanie Singer (testimony)
"I felt beat up and like a crushed can.  That's what I felt like, like a crushed can all over, and my spirits were down real low."
--Rodney King (grand jury testimony)
"I think possibly [Koon] was overwhelmed by this situation where nothing seemed to work.  I think he went brain-dead."
--Detective Taky Tzimeas, LA Police Internal Affairs Investigator (Cannon, Official Negligence)
"Powell was an overaggressive and slightly sadistic police officer of questionable judgment."
--Jack White, investigator for district attorney (Cannon, Official Negligence)
"Take a look at some of the pictures of the riot.  They were out there stealing and looting and assaulting, and while they were looting most of them were laughing.  Where was the 'rage' over Rodney King and the verdict."
--LA Police Chief Daryl Gates (Boyer, Looking for Justice in L.A., New Yorker)
"People, I just want to say, can we all just get along?  Can we stop making it horrible?  We're all stuck here for a while.  Let's try to work it out."
--Rodney King
"The lynch mob howling for 'justice' in the Rodney King affair has not yet been satisfied, its bloodlust not yet satiated.  So political capital can be gained by pursuing the 'guilty.'"
--Sergeant Stacey Koon (Koon, Presumed Guilty)(on the prospect of facing a federal trial)
"I think it was a winnable case from the defense point of view with a slightly different defense strategy.  The defense should have been, 'People, after looking at the video we screwed up, we didn't intentionally hurt anyone, so it wasn't a civil rights violation."
--Defense Attorney Harland Braun (Dietz, Willful Injustice)
"The Rodney King videotape is true.  But it is not the truth.  The truth can only be found by viewing the videotape in the context of everything else that happened."
--Sergeant Stacey Koon (Koon, Presumed Guilty)

LAPD Officers' Trial Page