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Ex-Wife Says Rodney King Depressed, Fears For His Life Since Beating

April 15, 1991

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Since his much publicized beating by police, Rodney King fears for his life, is dejected by the damage to his looks and avoids television reports about the incident, his ex-wife and doctor say.

″He’s depressed. He’s scared,″ Dennetta King said.

″He’s depressed because they beat him like that and he feels that his manhood has been taken, and he’s scared because he doesn’t know if they’re going to try to beat him up again or kill him or what.″

Ms. King said she speaks with her ex-husband, who has since remarried, about twice a week.

King, a 25-year-old construction worker, has stayed at a series of private homes since the March 3 beating, which was videotaped by a plumber trying out a new video camera. The tape was broadcast nationally and caused a furor, focusing new attention on police practices.

Three police officers and a sergeant pleaded innocent to felony assault charges in the case. More than a dozen other officers who witnessed the beating but did nothing are under investigation.

King, in the meantime, has filed an $83 million claim against the city. Two passengers in his car that night have filed lawsuits as well, saying they were subject to mistreatment too.

King’s attorney, Steve Lerman, hired security guards to watch out for King, who limits his outings to medical visits, and then with a cane and wheelchair.

Lerman said he has refused to allow reporters near his client because ″I don’t feel he’s in any kind of shape to be seen.″

King can’t enjoy television, his ex-wife said, because ″every time he turns on the TV he sees something on it (about) the beating.″

She said King’s memory ″still messes up,″ and Lerman said doctors suspect he may have suffered brain damage. King’s skull was fractured in 11 places in the beating.

King also suffers headaches and numbness on the right side of his face where the bones of his cheek and eye were broken ″like an eggshell,″ his plastic surgeon, Dr. Alvin Reiter said.

King’s bones appear to be healing well after five hours of reconstructive surgery, but he will probably require more surgery, Reiter said.

″He’s very concerned about what he’s going to look like,″ the doctor said.

Denetta King said her ex-husband was always proud of his good looks.

″He loves his teeth and face,″ she said. ″He brushed quite a bit and used to get on the girls all the time about brushing their teeth. He believed in pretty teeth.″

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