Stacey Koon

Stacey Cornell Koon (born November 23, 1950) is a former sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department and one of the four police officers who were responsible in the 1991 Rodney King incident.

Stacey Koon
Stacey Koon booking photo in 1991.jpg
Koon in 1991
Born (1950-11-23) November 23, 1950 (age 70)[1][2]
Police career
CountryUnited States
DepartmentLos Angeles Police Department
Service yearsUnited States Air Force: 1971–1974
Los Angeles Police Department: 1976–1992
RankSworn in as an Officer: 1976
LAPD Police Officer-3.jpg Police Officer 3: 1978
LAPD Sergeant-1.jpg Sergeant I: 1982
AwardsLos Angeles Police Department Medal of Valor ribbon.svg LAPD Medal of Valor
100+ commendations[3]
Other workConvicted in connection to the Rodney King beating

Rodney King BeatingEdit

On March 3, 1991, in Los Angeles, a high-speed chase was initiated by California Highway Patrol officer Melanie Singer after motorist Rodney King was observed driving a 1988 white Hyundai Excel at over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h). The chase ended on the right shoulder of Foothill Boulevard. Koon, the commanding Los Angeles Police Department officer on the scene, and four other LAPD officers (Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseño and Rolando Solano) attempted to arrest King. The officers stated that King resisted arrest and Officers Powell, Wind and Briseño had to use force to subdue him, although witnesses denied that King resisted. The incident was videotaped by a nearby resident, George Holliday, who sold it to local TV station KTLA, with the videotape showing King on all fours on the ground while the officers, taking turns tasering and beating King with their batons. As a result of the incident, King was hospitalized with a fractured skull, broken leg, and burn marks from the taser. The station aired parts of the video and CNN aired it the next day. The trial was moved out of Los Angeles to the largely white suburb of Simi Valley, after the judge ruled that untainted jurors could not be found in Los Angeles. The police officers were tried for the use of excessive force in state court in 1992 and acquitted on April 29 that year. Later the same day the 1992 Los Angeles riots began, which resulted in 63 deaths.

In 1993, the four officers were tried in a federal court in Los Angeles; Koon and Powell were convicted of violating King's civil rights. The United States Federal Sentencing Guidelines recommended the offenders serve up to ten years in prison.[4] Instead, U.S. District Judge John Davies sentenced the offenders to 30 months.[5] The sentencing was vacated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in August 1994 for violating the guidelines.[6] 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.[7][8]

Koon wrote a book in 1992 about the incident in which he defended his actions and blamed the riots on the media and community leaders.[3] He appeared as a guest on A Closer Look with Faith Daniels on October 24, 1992.[9]

Murder AttemptEdit

In November 1995, a gunman, 35-year-old Randall Tolbert entered a halfway house, where Koon was completing the final weeks of his prison sentence, and demanded to know where Koon was. Koon was away from the facility, on a holiday pass, at the time. The gunman took three hostages, one of whom was 67-year-old Karl Milam. After fatally shooting Milam, Tolbert was shot and killed by the sheriff's SWAT team during a shootout.[3][10][11]

After his prison releaseEdit

Koon eventually moved to Castaic, north of Los Angeles.[3] In 2012, he began working as a chauffeur in Los Angeles for the limousine company Music Express where his patrons have included former U.S. vice president Al Gore, and political commentator D. L. Hughley as well as other prominent Hollywood writers.[12][13]

Both Koon and fellow LAPD officer Laurence Powell have been used as symbols of racism in hip hop and related music. He is referenced by rap metal band Rage Against the Machine in their song "Vietnow",[14] and is mentioned in Ice Cube's songs "Really Doe" and "We Had to Tear This Motherfucka Up." Koon was also namechecked in The Simpsons episode "Sideshow Bob Roberts" by conservative commentator Birch Barlow as an example of someone "railroaded by our liberal justice system" alongside Sideshow Bob, Oliver North, and Joe Camel. He was parodied twice in 1993 by Jim Carrey on the American sketch comedy television series In Living Color.

In 2007, Time magazine profiled Koon as it marked the 15th anniversary of the beating.[3] They reported that, since his release, he had been living on the royalties from his book.

In 2018, Koon was arrested for driving under the influence in Santa Clarita, California.[15] Koon pleaded guilty and received a sentence of three years' probation and was required to install an alcohol interlock on his vehicle.[16]


Koon has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in criminal justice from California State University, Los Angeles, and a master's degree in public administration from the University of Southern California.[17]


  1. ^ "NewsLibrary Search Results". Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  2. ^ Joshi, S.T. (1999). Documents of American Prejudice: An Anthology of Writings on Race from Thomas Jefferson to David Duke. Basic Books. ISBN 9780465016242. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  3. ^ a b c d e Madison Gray (2007-04-27). "Stacey Koon - The L.A. Riots: 15 Years After Rodney King". Time magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-12-21. Retrieved 2014-10-17. Over the next year, Koon, along with Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, and Theodore Briseno, were acquitted. In his 1992 book, Presumed Guilty: The Tragedy of the Rodney King Affair, Koon further defended his actions and blamed the riots on the media and community leaders.
  4. ^ Mydans, Seth (6 August 1993). "Behind Beating Sentence: Guidelines and Sympathy". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  5. ^ United States v. Koon, 833 F. Supp. 769 (C.D. Cal. 1993).
  6. ^ United States v. Koon, 34 nevaeh 1416 (9th Cir. 1994).
  7. ^ Koon v. United States, 518 U.S. 81 (1996).
  8. ^ Greenhouse, Linda (14 June 1996). "THE SUPREME COURT: SENTENCING; Court Upholds Sentence in King Case". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  9. ^ Connelly, Michael (October 24, 1992). "Koon Gets Hostile Response at TV Taping : King beating: South-Central residents drown out sergeant's defense of officers with shouts accusing him of racism while he tries to plug his book". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2019-10-14. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  10. ^ Ralph Frammolino (1995-11-24). "2 Die as Gunman Seeks Koon at Halfway House". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2020-06-04. Koon was visiting his family on a holiday pass from the shelter, where he is completing his federal prison sentence for civil rights violations in the 1991 videotaped beating of motorist Rodney G. King.
  11. ^ Tom Gorman; Bettina Boxall (1995-11-25). "Family Tells of Slain Gunman's Anger at Koon". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2019-07-30.
  12. ^ "Al Gore's Limo Driver Was Former LAPD Officer In Rodney King Beating Video". Inside Edition. 2014-05-22. Archived from the original on 2019-04-27. Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  13. ^ "May 1, 2015". Real Time with Bill Maher. Season 13. Episode 15. HBO. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  14. ^ Rage Against the Machine. Evil Empire. Epic EK 57523, 1996.
  15. ^ "Cop in Rodney King Beating, Stacey Koon, Busted for DUI".
  16. ^ "Former LAPD Sergeant Stacey Koon Pleads No Contest in DUI Case". My News LA. 2018-10-30. Retrieved 2020-06-04. Koon, 67, was immediately sentenced to three years probation, a three-month DUI class and a $390 fine plus penalty assessments. He was also ordered to install an ignition interlock device on his vehicle following his plea to a count of driving with a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content, according to Ricardo Santiago of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
  17. ^ Koon, Stacey C.; Robert Deitz (1992). Presumed Guilty: The Tragedy of the Rodney King Affair. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway. ISBN 9780895265074. OCLC 26553041.

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