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Rodney King's daughter on Tyre Nichols: 'People wonder where the anger comes from, this is where'

Lora Dene King, 38, weighed in on her father's 1991 brutal beating at the hands of Los Angeles police officers and the parallels it draws to Nichols' death more than 30 years later.
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Rodney King's daughter weighed in on the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols earlier this month and the triggering parallels it draws to the brutality her father suffered at the hands of police officers more than 30 years ago.

"People wonder where the anger comes from, this is where," Lora Dene King, 38, told NBC News. "If you see someone time and time again, who looks like you, your dad, your brother, how would you feel? It's a pattern and we're still here."

In 1991, video of Rodney King being mercilessly beaten by Los Angeles police officers went viral, prompting public outrage and leading to criminal charges against four officers. When a jury declined to convict them, the city erupted in deadly riots. It's believed that King's assault altered the public’s relationship with law enforcement, opening many American eyes to police violence.

Over three decades later, Nichols was the victim of an “unadulterated, unabashed, nonstop beating” reminiscent to the brutality Rodney King suffered at the hands of police officers, attorneys representing the man’s family said Monday. King's beating lasted one minute and 19 seconds, while Nichols' lasted for three minutes.

Lora was just seven years old when this happened to her father. Nichols had a 4-year-old son.

Lora King, 33, the middle daughter of Rodney King, at her home in Los Angeles in 2017.Image:
Lora King, 33, daughter of Rodney King, at her home in Los Angeles in 2017.Dania Maxwell for NBC News

"How do you explain that to a child? My life was never normal after that, as well as my sister’s. There’s no such thing as adjusting," she said. "My dad didn't die that night, but a big part of him did that we never got back."

Lora said the news of Nichols' death three days after he was beaten by police in Memphis is "very triggering" to her, and is part of a "repetitive pattern" seen with her father, Eric Garner, George Floyd and now, Nichols.

"The whole situation is sickening to me, there is no reason he shouldn’t be alive," she said of Nichols. “It’ll just be another hashtag and we’ll go on with our lives, and then it’ll happen again."

Of all the things Lora heard about Nichols in the news, one thing stood out to her: his love of skateboarding.

"He loved skateboarding and my dad loved skateboarding," she said, recalling one of her father's last interviews with CNN featuring him skateboarding down the street.

Lora says she isn't in contact with Nichols' family, but the one piece of advice she'd give them is to "keep pushing forward his legacy."

"Don't let them break down his character. Oftentimes people will try to break down the person and paint this picture, with some things that may be factual, but that has nothing to do with him no longer being here on this earth."

But despite the cyclical trauma, Lora has hope for the future.

"I'm hopeful because there are more people now, not just Black people, who are speaking up about situations like this," she said.

Speaking to CNN, John Burris, who represented Lora's father in his highly publicized case, agreed, adding that he's seen progress since King's near-fatal beating.

"I will say that I could see a lot of progress being made in different jurisdictions in different police agencies," Burris said. "And mainly the most important thing is the cellphone and the body-worn cameras, because now you don't have a dispute about the hearsay of the officer versus that of a victim or a witness."

Even though there's been progress since 1991, Lora says more can be done, like more mental evaluations on police officers.

"Justice will never be served because this man is dead," Lora said about Nichols. "I wish his family God's grace, there's nothing anyone can say to soften that blow."