Nightly News | April 28, 2012
>>> 20 years ago tomorrow, it was a stunning trial verdict that rocked los angeles . the acquittal of four police officers who were criminally charged in the rodney king beating. the reaction to the jury verdict was swift with parts of l.a. set ablaze and now on the anniversary of the riot, some of the key players are speaking out about then and now. all it took was two little words.
>> not guilty.
>> to light the fuse that would erupt the city into flames. and knocking on already embattled police department back on its heels. bob green from south central l.a. remembers that afternoon.
>> there was a lot of concern because things were very dense in the community.
>> reverend dr. cecil murray was a prominent pastor at the time.
>> when i went outside the church, there an inferno. it was hell.
>> the match was struck more than a year earlier when this amateur video emerged of los angeles police officers beating motorist and parolee, rodney king , after a dangerous, high speed chase .
>> i was screaming to the death and begging somebody to please come out. screaming as loud as i could so somebody could hear me before i died.
>> the video brought long standing complaints of police abuses to a head.
>> they were brutalized under served segments of the city.
>> four officers were charged with assaulting king and put on trial.
>> very happy.
>> news of their acquittal hit south central l.a. like a lightening bolt. the epicenter, the intersection of florence and normandy where a shell shocked city would witness another vicious beating. this one, reginald denny . whose idea was it for you to go public?
>> i wanted to say something, you know, but i -- i didn't. i pulled back and then lawyer asked me, can you say something?
>> can we all get along?
>> rodney king 's five simple words have guided the last 20 years as l.a. has invested millions of dollars in south central , applying the lessons of 1992 .
>> you can't grow and be a great city if you're leaving entire communities behind.
>> the l.a.p.d. has repaired much of its image, too, creating partnerships with the community.
>> the policeman is radically changed.
>> 20 years later, he still struggles with alcohol and occasional run-ins with the law. but remains a symbol with police brutality .
>> this is the healing part for me and i accept the role fully.
>> in a later trial, he was awarded almost $4 million in a civil suit against the city of los angeles . he has recently written a book called "the riot within."