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Rodney King Autopsy Underway After Drowning

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on June 18, 2012 12:55 PM

Rodney King's autopsy will include toxicology tests to help determine what caused King's death, which police believe was an accidental drowning.

King's fiancée called 911 when she found him at the bottom of his small backyard swimming pool in Rialto, Calif., about 5 a.m. Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reports. Rescuers pulled King's lifeless body from the pool, and he was declared dead at a hospital. Rodney King was 47 years old.

King, the face of the Los Angeles race riots some 20 years ago, had struggled for years with drug and alcohol abuse, police found no alcohol or drug paraphernalia near the pool, Fox News reports.

Nevertheless, toxicology tests will be part of Rodney King's autopsy, a coroner's spokeswoman told the Times. Test results could take up to eight weeks.

Under California law, a coroner must inquire and determine the circumstances, manner, and cause of death for all homicides, suicides, accidents, or deaths from undetermined means. Deaths in which the decedent hasn't been seen by a doctor within 20 days are also included.

Rodney King's apparent accidental drowning surprised some who knew him, because he was a capable swimmer. But police say there were no signs of foul play.

One neighbor told reporters she heard some commotion from King's house around 3 a.m., including someone possibly crying. Later, she reportedly heard someone say "Go inside the house," after which she heard a splash.

Rodney King became a symbol for police brutality after his videotaped beating by Los Angeles police and the riot that followed the officers' acquittals. King won $3.8 million in a civil lawsuit, and had recently been promoting his memoir, entitled "The Riot Within."

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