George Holliday, the Los Angeles man who filmed a grainy, nine-minute-long video of four white police officers punching, kicking, and stun-gunning a Black motorist, has died at 61 from complications of COVID-19, a friend told TMZ on Monday. On the night of March 3, 1991, Holliday was awakened by the sounds of a traffic stop outside his home. He couldn’t have known that picking up his new, bulky video camera and pointing it at the brutal beating of Rodney King would change L.A. forever.
The out-of-focus, darkened footage he shot would be used as key evidence at the officers’ criminal trial, where they were acquitted. The city erupted in rage, with hundreds of businesses looted, burned, and destroyed. More than 60 died once the violence, which lasted several days, finally abated.
Holliday, who worked as a plumber for most of his life, never profited from the video. He put his camcorder up for auction last July, but it’s unknown if the item sold. He told The New York Times around the time of the auction that he had instinctively grabbed the camera that night. Holliday, who was unvaccinated, had been in the hospital for more than a month at the time of his death.