LA RIOTS 30TH ANNIVERSARY: Former LAPD officer reflects on his experience

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On the 30th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots that shook America in 1992, Fox News asked Michael P. Downing, a former top cop with the Los Angeles Police Department for his thoughts and insights. 

Los Angeles erupted after the Simi Valley jury acquitted Officers Stacey Koon, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind and Theodore Briseno for the beating of Rodney King. The riots lasted six days. When the smoke cleared, 63 people were killed, 2,383 were injured and more than 12,000 were arrested. The property damage was estimated to be well over $1 billion.

Downing was a young man on the streets during the riots. He went on to serve 35 years with the LAPD and reached the department’s highest levels, including commanding officer, deputy chief, and interim chief of police.

What follows is a Q&A that has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. We strongly encourage you to watch the accompanying video so you may hear Downing in his own words.

Q: Where were you when the Los Angeles riots began?

A: I was a lieutenant assigned to 77th Division. I happened to be on vacation that week studying for the promotional exam and saw what

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