Man Who Filmed Rodney King Beating by LAPD Officers Dies at 61 From COVID-19

George Holliday was awakened by a traffic stop outside his San Fernando Valley home on the night of March 3, 1991. He grabbed his video camera and captured scenes that would soon be seen around the world.

George Holliday, left, points to the spot in April 26, 1997, along a roadside in the Lake View Terrace section of Los Angeles where he videotaped Rodney King, right, being beaten in April 1992. Holliday has died of COVID-19.

George Holliday, the Los Angeles plumber who shot grainy video of four white police officers beating Black driver 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. Holliday was not vaccinated and was on a ventilator in recent days after contracting pneumonia, Wollenweber said.

"It is with a heavy heart, yet with a Peace in my soul that I share with you that my incredible husband has passed away to be with our Lord," Holliday's wife Sandra Holliday said in a Facebook post. "It was an honor to be your wife."

"For anyone that knew him personally or even crossed his path for a moment, they got to experience his humble, loving heart of a servant leader, full of love, goodness, generosity, and the genuine fun-loving happiness he brought into their lives," she continued. "He had such a genuine care for others, making them feel loved, seen and heard."

George Holliday was awakened by a traffic stop outside his San Fernando Valley home on the night of March 3, 1991. He went outside to film it with his new video camera, catching the Los Angeles officers punching, kicking and using a stun gun on King, even after he was on the ground.

A year later, Holliday's out-of-focus footage — about 9 minutes worth — was a key piece of evidence at the four officers' criminal trial for assault and excessive use of force.

Archive Video: This video was originally broadcast on March 3, 2016. George Holliday reflects on the night he recorded LAPD officers confront driver Rodney King in front of Holliday's Lake View Terrace apartment in northeast LA. Editor's Note: This video was originally published March 3, 2016, 25 years after the Rodney King beating was brought into the national view by the home video. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. on March 3, 2016.

When a jury acquitted all the officers on April 29, 1992, the city erupted in widespread violence. Hundreds of businesses were looted and destroyed over several days. Entire blocks of homes and stores went up in flames. More than 60 people died by shootings or other violence, mostly in South Los Angeles.

The uprising seemed to catch the rest of the nation by surprise, but longtime residents said tensions were building in South LA for years and the King verdict was just the tipping point.

On the third day of the riots, King went on TV to plead for calm, asking in a trembling voice, “Can we all get along?”

King sued Los Angeles over the beating and was awarded $3.8 million in 1994, but he told The Associated Press in 2012 that he lost most of that money to bad investments. King drowned in his backyard swimming pool on June 17, 2012, at age 47.

Holliday's death was first reported by

Holliday put the Sony camcorder he used to record the beating up for auction last July, with bidding starting at $225,000. It was unclear if it ever sold.

Holliday told the New York Times last year that he was still working as a plumber and never profited from the video.

He said he had purchased the camera about a month earlier and he grabbed it instinctively when he was awakened by noise outside his window.

“You know how it is when you have a new piece of technology,” he told 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.

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