The chief of the Los Angeles Police Department during the riots that followed the acquittal of white police officers for the beating of Rodney King died today at the age of 83.
The LAPD has released a statement confirming that Daryl F. Gates died from a “short battle with cancer” in his Newport Beach home.
The former chief of police garnered praise from some and criticism from others for his reaction to the infamous riots that covered L.A. in ’92.
Four white officers were acquitted on assault charges for the beating of Rodney King and following that 53 people died, an estimated 2,500 were injured and there was $400 million worth of property damaged.
Chief Gates was quoted saying that while he was “appalled” by the videotaped beating the officer’s actions were simply an “aberration.”
Gates enlisted the use of police helicopters and arranged the city’s SWAT team to restore order during the incidents.
The former police chief was known for not backing down and after resigning in October of ’92 and being criticized for not having a “specific plan” during the riots he remarked to reporters saying,
“Clearly that night we should have gone down there and shot a few people. In retrospect, that’s exactly what we should have done. We should have blown a few heads off. And maybe your television cameras would have seen that and maybe that would have been broadcast and maybe, just maybe, that would have stopped everything. I don’t know. But certainly we had the legal right to do that.”
Gates is survived by his brother and his two children.