All That's Trucking

A look back at the LA Race Riots, a trucker beating and the heroes who came to his aid

April 29, 2012

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Last week marked the 20th anniversary of an ugly event in American history -- the LA race riots.
One of the most riveting and horrific scenes of those riots was the live televised sight of a truck driver being pulled from the cab of his truck and brutally beaten, nearly to death.

The riots were triggered by not-guilty verdicts in the racially charged trial of the police beating of Rodney King. Six days of rioting left dozens dead and thousands injured. A jury with no black members had acquitted four police officers in the videotaped beating of King, a black man stopped for speeding nearly 14 months before.

Reginald Denny was driving for Transit Mixed Concrete Co. not after that verdict was handed down on April 29, 1992, when he had the bad fortune to be at the intersection of Florence and Normandie in south Los Angeles, where a liquor store was being looted. He stopped to avoid running over someone and was dragged from his truck. One attacker smashed in his head with a brick; another stepped on his head afterward. By the end of the attack, Denny's skull was in more than 90 pieces.

You can see a clip of that terrible attack in this video of an interview with Titus Murphy, one of Denny's rescuers:

View more videos at: http://nbclosangeles.com.



Murphy was one of four total strangers who rushed to Denny's aid in a tale of heroism and compassion. Denny had managed to pull himself back into the truck but was bleeding heavily and in no shape to drive. A woman named Lei Yuille comforted Denny inside the cab. Murphy hung off the side of the truck and directed Bobby Green, a truck driver who had also arrived at the scene, who couldn't see through the shattered windshield to drive. Murphy's then-girlfiend, Terri Barnett, drove a car in front of the slowly moving truck 3 miles to the hospital.

In this video, Green talks about his role in the rescue:



After extensive surgery, Denny survived the beating, but his speech and ability to walk were damaged permanently. He moved to Arizona and shunned media attention for most of the past 20 years, although he did reportedly accept an apology from one of his attackers.

Denny was white, but none of his rescuers were. Murphy told the interviewer that he didn't even think about the race of the man he was helping.

In a 2002 interview, Denny spoke about the experience:

View more videos at: http://nbclosangeles.com.



View more videos at: http://nbclosangeles.com.

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Read more about the attack:

Good Samaritan remembers his scary truck-driver rescue

Steady hands, determination saved Reginald Denny as L.A. burned

The L.A. Riots: 15 Years After Rodney King: Reginald Denny (Time magazine)

WIkipedia entry on Reginald Denny

Corrected 4/30 to indicate that the rescuers were not all black; one was Asian.

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Author Bio

Deborah Lockridge

Editor in Chief

All That's Trucking blog is just that – the editor's take on anything and everything related to trucking, with the help of guest posts from other HDT editors. Author Deborah Lockridge's career as an award-winning trucking journalist started in 1990.

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