Recovery Is Slow for Rodney King, His Lawyer Says


Ten months after his videotaped image under the repeated blows of police batons and boots was captured for all time, Rodney G. King continues to live in a world of doctors, psychologists and a fear of the police, his attorney says.

King has moved out of his home to a secluded apartment in Los Angeles, where he spends long afternoons watching nature films on television. He rarely goes out, and never without a bodyguard. When he recently attended his brother’s wedding, he had to leave early because of his headaches.

In fact, according to attorney Steven A. Lerman, King’s headaches come just as frequently since he first suffered almost a dozen head fractures when he was beaten March 3 by a group of Los Angeles police officers in Lake View Terrace. He is easily tired, and still suffers memory loss. He is undergoing psychotherapy. He also underwent dental reconstruction, and still has difficulty walking, although he no longer uses a cane.


On the plus side, King has signed a book and movie contract about his ordeal. He also continues to push his massive federal civil rights lawsuit against Los Angeles and the Police Department. Except for a few observations he made in a brief press conference after the beating, he has turned down legions of requests for interviews, unwilling to relive the frightful events of March 3.

And then there are the demons that haunt his sleep.

“He’s still suffering from very, very vivid nightmares about what happened,” Lerman said. “He’s extremely paranoid about the police. He still thinks somehow they will try and get him or get to him before he can testify at the criminal trial” in February of the four police officers charged in the beating.

“He’s frightened of having to be in the same courtroom with them,” Lerman said. “He’s real nervous around them. He just kind of wants to be left alone, and to get well.”

Equally disturbing for King, the lawyer said, is trying to reconcile all the political fighting and community divisiveness that followed his beating. He is troubled that many citizens consider him a martyr for police abuse, Lerman said.

“It all overwhelmed him,” he said. “He would like to see things change so that what happened to him won’t happen to anybody else. But I don’t think for a minute he really believes that things will change overnight.”