LOS ANGELES -- Reginald Denny, the truck driver who was beaten severely in the first moments of the unrest in the city's South Central area, was able to talk yesterday for the first time since the incident, and doctors upgraded his condition to good.
Doctors at Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital in Inglewood, where Mr. Denny was taken by a group of onlookers after the beating Wednesday night, said his prognosis was improving. They said they still had not determined whether Mr. Denny had suffered permanent brain injuries.
Hospital officials said Mr. Denny began speaking yesterday and asked for a fly swatter because a fly was buzzing around his room. They said he also wrote a note to Cecily Kahn, a social worker at the hospital, saying: "I'm just a regular guy. I never meant to be famous."
Mr. Denny, who is white, was dragged from his truck by a group of black men in South Central Los Angeles hours after the acquittal of four white police officers accused in the videotaped beating of Rodney G. King, a black motorist. Mr. Denny, 36, was beaten, kicked, spat on and robbed as television helicopters circled overhead recording the scene.