<div style="display:inline" class="fn">Laurence Powell</div>

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Laurence Powell
BornLaurence Michael Powell
(1962-08-26) August 26, 1962 (age 59)[1][2]
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
💼 Occupation

Laurence Michael Powell (born August 26, 1962 in Los Angeles, California) is a former Los Angeles Police Department officer. He was one of the LAPD officers involved in the beating of Rodney King on March 3, 1991.


Powell's father was a Lieutenant in the Los Angeles County Marshall's Office.[3] Powell graduated from Crescenta Valley High School. He later enrolled in the police academy.[4]

Rodney King incident and trial[edit]

On March 3, 1991, Powell and three other officers, Sgt. Stacey Koon, Officer Theodore Briseno, and Officer Timothy Wind were videotaped repeatedly striking Rodney King with their police batons in Lake View Terrace.[5] Officer Powell was partnered with Officer Wind at the time.

The Los Angeles District Attorney charged the four officers with assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force. A year later, after a change of venue from Los Angeles to Ventura County, a jury of ten whites, one Asian and one Hispanic, acquitted the four officers of the assault charge, but deadlocked on the excessive force charge for Powell. The verdict led to the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

The four officers were later indicted on federal charges for violating Rodney King's civil rights. Powell and Koon were convicted in 1993.[6] The United States Federal Sentencing Guidelines recommend the offenders serve up to ten years in prison.[7] Instead, U.S. District Judge John Davies sentenced the offenders to 30 months.[8] The sentencing was vacated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in August 1994 for violating the guidelines.[9] In February 1996, that judgment was itself reversed by the Supreme Court of the United States, which found that the shortened sentences were within the district court's discretion.[10][11]


The 1992 song "Guerillas in the Mist" by Da Lench Mob uses a sample of the phrase "gorillas in the mist" uttered by Powell. The LAPD officer had used the phrase to describe a black family in a domestic dispute that he responded to just before stopping King, named after the 1988 film Gorillas in the Mist.[12]

Powell received training in computers, while in prison.[13]

In 1997, for the fifth anniversary of the beating, CNN sought out King, Powell, and the other individuals who played a key role.[14] They reported after his release from prison Powell had sought work as a handyman, but he hoped to find a job working with computers. They quoted Powell describing King as "He's like a puppet for his lawyers," who was basically "just a petty criminal."

Time magazine as able to reach Stacey Koon for a series of article for the 15th anniversary, but Powell's lawyer told them he no longer spoke to the press.[4]

The Los Angeles Times, reporting on the 15th anniversary, wrote that Powell did get a job in computer retail.[13]

In 2017 National Public Radio reported Powell, and the three other officers, had left California.[15]


  1. Hitchings, Thomas E. (Jun 3, 1992). "Facts on File Yearbook 1991". Facts On File. Retrieved Jun 3, 2020 – via Google Books.
  2. "NewsLibrary Search Results". nl.newsbank.com. Retrieved Jun 3, 2020.
  3. Joe Domanick (1995). To Protect and to Serve: The Lapd's Century of War in the City of Dreams. Pocket Books. pp. 371, 372, 381. ISBN 9780671751135. Retrieved 2020-06-05. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  4. 4.0 4.1 Madison Gray (2007-04-27). "Laurence Powell - The L.A. Riots: 15 Years After Rodney King". Time magazine. Archived from the original on 2007-04-29. Retrieved 2014-10-17. But five years after he was convicted, he told CNN that King was a 'puppet for his lawyers.' 'They parade him around and try to move him to be their spokesperson for the case, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, he's just a petty criminal.' Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  5. "RODNEY KING BEATING VIDEO Full length footage SCREENER". 12 March 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  6. Savage, David; Newton, Jim (14 June 1996). "Justices Uphold Lenient Sentences in King Beating". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  7. Mydans, Seth (6 August 1993). "Behind Beating Sentence: Guidelines and Sympathy". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  8. United States v. Koon, 833 F. Supp. 769 (C.D. Cal. 1993).
  9. United States v. Koon, 34 F.3d 1416 (9th Cir. 1994).
  10. Koon v. United States, 518 U.S. 81 (1996).
  11. Greenhouse, Linda (14 June 1996). "THE SUPREME COURT: SENTENCING; Court Upholds Sentence in King Case". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  12. Quinn, Eithne. Nuthin' but a "G" Thang: The Culture and Commerce of Gangsta Rap. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005. (See pp. 104-105.)
  13. 13.0 13.1 Rosanna Xia (2012-04-20). "Where they are now". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2020-06-05. Powell, who worked with computers while he was in prison, later worked in the computer retailing industry. Now 49, he lives in San Diego County, according to public records. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  14. Anne McDermott (1997-04-29). "Five years later, wounds from L.A. riots still sting". CNN. Los Angeles. Archived from the original on 2011-11-12.
  15. Anjuli Sastry; Karen Grigsby Bates (2017-04-26). "When LA Erupted In Anger: A Look Back At The Rodney King Riots". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2020-06-05. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)

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