CHICAGO (CBS) — Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson said Rodney King, the man whose beating at the hands of police in sparked the 1992 Los Angeles riots, was “haunted by tragedy – both in the way he lived and the way he died.”

King, 47, was pronounced dead Sunday morning after his fiancée found him at the bottom of his pool in Rialto, Calif.

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Jackson said King was a friend of his, and the two talked about a month ago.

“It was a joyous conversation about his book. He said he … was broke, and he was on the road to recovery. He said now that I have the book and there’s some protection of my work, I’ll recover my money, and this time I’ll be able to sustain myself and take better care (of myself). We laughed about it,” Jackson said.

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King recently published an autobiography, titled “The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption.”

King’s beating was caught on video, but when the officers responsible were acquitted of criminal charges, the verdict sparked riots throughout Los Angeles in 1992.

“Rodney King has become a fixture in our lives because the beating of Rodney King – and the walking away by those who beat him – touched something deep in the American consciousness. Rodney King, though the victim, became the hero, kind of a counter-cultural hero,” Jackson said.

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Jackson said the real hero on the day King was beaten in 1991 was the white photographer George Holliday, who heard King’s cries and filmed the beating – and did not dismiss it.