Henry Keith Watson did not fit the description of many of those caught up in the Los Angeles riots. He was an ex-Marine, married and a father. While he had served time in prison for robbery, he had remained out of trouble, had reportedly held down two jobs, and was well known and respected in his neighborhood. "I'm not your typical gang member," he says 15 years later.
Yet like many in L.A., his emotions got the better of him on that April weekend. So when Reginald Denny found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time Watson suddenly found himself part of a group beating Denny to a pulp. While Damian Williams struck Denny's head with a cinderblock, Watson stood on his neck.
"It was rage and anger, not just about Rodney King, but the injustices that were going on during that time," Watson explained, though he claims that nobody really intended to kill Denny. "Nobody specifically sought out Reginald Denny to cause him any harm. He got caught up in the moment, just like everyone else."
A hung jury spared Watson from the felony assault charge against him. Instead, he was convicted of simple assault, a misdemeanor, and freed after his trial for time served. In 1993, on the Phil Donahue show, Watson apologized to Denny for his part in the attack. His troubles with the law were not yet over. He would later serve three years in prison for a narcotics conviction. Today, he is still in Los Angeles, operating his own limousine service.
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