LOS ANGELES — George Holliday, the Los Angeles plumber who shot grainy video of four white police officers beating Black motorist Rodney King in 1991, has died of complications of Covid-19, a friend said Monday.
Holliday, 61, died Sunday at a Los Angeles hospital, where he had been for more than a month, according to Robert Wollenweber, a longtime friend and former coworker. Wollenweber stated that Holliday had not been vaccinated, and was currently on a ventilator after contracting pneumonia.
Holliday woke up after a traffic stop at his San Fernando Valley house on March 3. 1991. With his new camera, Holliday went outside to record the incident. He caught the officers in Los Angeles punching, kick and using stun guns on King even though he was already on the ground.
Holliday’s blurred footage of about 9 minutes of Holliday was used as evidence in the criminal trial of four officers for excessive force and assault. It took place a year later.
When a jury acquitted all the officers on April 29, 1992, the city erupted in widespread violence. Over several days, hundreds of businesses were targeted and looted. Blocks of houses and shops were set on fire. More than 60 people died by shootings or other violence, mostly in South Los Angeles. The uprising caught the nation off guard, but residents of South LA knew that tensions had been building for years and that the King verdict was the tipping point.
On day three of the riots King appeared on television to ask for calm. He asked in a trembling voice: “Can we all get along ?”
King sued Los Angeles for the beating. He was awarded $3.8million in 1994,, but he said to The Associated Press in 2012, that he had lost most of that money due to poor investments. King drowned in his backyard swimming pool on June 17, 2012, at age 47.
Holliday’s death was first reported by TMZ.com.
Holliday put the Sony camcorder he used to record the beating up for auction last July, with bidding starting at $225,000. It is not known if the camcorder ever sold.
Holliday said to the New York Times last he was still a plumber and had never made any money from the video.
He said that he bought the camera about a year ago and that he took it out of his pocket when he heard a noise outside.
” You know what it’s like to have a new piece technology,” he explained to the Times. “You film anything and everything.”
Holliday said in 2017 that he was working on a documentary about his role in the King case, but it was unclear if anything became of that project.