One photographer went to the streets of South Central Los Angeles before the Rodney King verdict was read from the Simi Valley Courthouse on April 29, 1992. As every radio and television station proclaimed LAPD officers "not guilty", this photographer stayed with the police through roll call at 77th division headquarters and followed officers onto the streets of Los Angeles. At the corner of Florence and Normandie LAPD confronted an angry mob throwing rocks and bottles while looting a corner liquor store.
Photographing the LAPD's first arrest and the escalating fury of the violent crowd, voices were heard, "Cops gonna die tonight," and "It's uzi time." It became clear to this witness that deadly force would be the next level of police response. Instead, a controversial order to retreat was issued and all officers ran to their police cars to vacate the intersection of Florence and Normandie. As the raging crowd suddenly became empowered, it was clear the LA riots had begun.
These photographs precede all other professional documentation of the worst rioting, arson and looting in the history of the United States of America. The photographer was the first victim.