Rodney King's daughter calls Tyre Nichols' police beating death 'sickening' 32 years after her father's assault

Rodney King's daughter calls Tyre Nichols' police beating death 'sickening' 32 years after her father's assault
A portrait of Tyre Nichols is displayed at a memorial service for him on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 in Memphis, Tenn. Nichols was killed during a traffic stop with Memphis Police on Jan. 7.Adrian Sainz/AP Photo
  • Rodney King's daughter is sickened by the beating and death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis.
  • Nearly 32 years after her fathers' beating, she can't comprehend how police brutality continues.

When Lora King — Rodney King's oldest daughter — first came across news of the police killing of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, she was so sickened she had to take a break from reading.

Now 38, King was only 7 in March 1991 when her father was kicked, stunned, and punched by four white Los Angeles police officers in the San Fernando Valley.

The beating — which her dad survived — was caught on video. It was one of the earliest cases in which a civilian's recording of police brutality led to protests.

"It's very, very sickening. This is nothing you can explain to children," King told Insider on Wednesday, a day after Nichols' autopsy report was released.

Tyre Nichols, 29, was sent to the hospital in critical condition after a January 7 traffic stop and died three days later.


On Monday, law enforcement officials allowed Nichols' family and their lawyers to privately view body-camera footage of Nichols' arrest.

After seeing the footage, which has not yet been released to the public, attorney Antonio Romanucci said at a Wednesday press conference that Nichols was "defenseless the entire time" while the five police officers, all of whom were also Black, beat him just 80 yards from his home.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said Nichols was shocked, pepper sprayed, and restrained during the encounter.

In a statement Tuesday, Crump said an autopsy commissioned by the Nichols family shows he "suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating, and that his observed injuries are consistent with what the family and attorneys witnessed on the video of his fatal encounter with police on January 7, 2023."

The Memphis Police Department said last week that it had fired the five officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith, and Desmond Mills Jr. — after an administrative investigation into Nichols' death. Two firefighters who were on scene were also relieved from duty, Reuters reported.


All five former police officers are now facing murder charges.

In the wake of the killing, attorneys for the Nichols family compared his beating to that of King.

Lora King, who is the executive director of the Rodney King Foundation, told Insider she doesn't understand why it would take five officers to restrain Nichols, who was only 150 pounds.

"I just can't wrap my head around it," she said. "People like him and my father shouldn't be crying out for their life."

King called it "unfortunate" that the officers involved in Tyre's death were Black but said, "Even if they were green, it doesn't matter."

There is no justification for killing another person during a police encounter, she said: "I would say that if they were white, I would say that if they were Asian, if the police were any other nationality."

Rodney King's daughter calls Tyre Nichols' police beating death 'sickening' 32 years after her father's assault
Rodney KingAP Images

"Hashtags and clearer videos"

Lora King said she wishes that 32 years after her father's infamous beating the world would have progressed beyond unjustified police killings of Black men.

There are many social issues King is passionate about — such as homelessness — but society can't fully address them because police brutality remains a problem all these years later, she said.

"I was 7 years old when my father was beaten and it's definitely affected my whole entire life," she said. "The only difference between now and then is hashtags and clearer videos."

King has a 16-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

Her daughter, who has researched and written school papers about her grandfather, only knew him as the "foodie" who would come over and do arts and crafts with her before he died in 2012.


When she saw his death covered on Oprah, that changed.

As for her 3-year-old, he's still too young to understand the concept of police brutality, and King gets anxious thinking about having to one day explain it — and his family's legacy — to him.

More worrisome, though, is the thought that he may experience police brutality first-hand, she said.

"It's sad that my dad has to be the poster boy for this entire movement," she said, but she's glad his beating wasn't in vain.

"It's sad that another family has to go through this forever," she said. "When you think of a legacy of a person, in my dad's case, a big part of him was murdered that day."


Update: January 26, 2023 — This story was updated with the news that the five police officers involved in Nichols' death were criminally charged.