A 31-year-old father and English teacher died from cardiac arrest last week after he was repeatedly tased by police, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, marking the third officer-involved death in the city this year.
Police encountered Keenan Anderson, who is the cousin of Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, on January 3 at the site of a traffic collision in Los Angeles’ Venice neighborhood, police said in a news release last week.
As police struggled to arrest Anderson, they tased him repeatedly, edited body-worn camera footage released by police shows. After being arrested, Anderson was brought to a local hospital, where he went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead, according to police.
Cullors said in an Instagram tribute post that her cousin was “killed by LAPD.”
“Keenan deserves to be alive right now, his child deserves to be raised by his father,” Cullors wrote in the post. “Keenan we will fight for you and for all of our loved ones impacted by state violence. I love you.”
Anderson taught tenth-grade English at Digital Pioneers Academy in Washington, DC, according to a statement from the school’s founder, Mashea Ashton. Anderson was visiting family in Los Angeles over winter break, Ashton said.
“The details of his death are as disturbing as they are tragic,” Ashton said in the statement, adding, “Keenan was a deeply committed educator and father of a six-year-old son. … He was beloved by all.”
“Our community is grieving. But we’re also angry. Angry that, once again, a known, loved, and respected member of our community is no longer with us. Angry that another talented, beautiful black soul is gone too soon,” Ashton said.
Detectives from the police department’s Force Investigation Division responded to the scene where Anderson was taken into custody and are investigating the use of force, police said, explaining in the video that the department’s policy defines any death of a person in their custody as a “categorical” use of force.
So far this year, Los Angeles police are also investigating the police shooting deaths of Takar Smith, 45, and Oscar Sanchez, 35, and has released footage of those incidents.
What the video shows
Police said they responded to a traffic collision the afternoon of January 3 and saw Anderson “running in the middle of the street and exhibiting erratic behavior.” On one officer’s body-worn camera, released and edited by police, a woman at the traffic collision site tells police, “I think that guy up there needs help though, because the guy’s trying to run away.”
Body-worn camera video shows Anderson initially stopped and spoke to an officer before the video cuts to a text screen that says Anderson “attempted to run away.”
When the video resumes, Anderson is seen jogging into the street as the officer pursues him and stops him in a busy intersection, commanding Anderson to lay down on his stomach.
Anderson does not appear to comply immediately, and two other officers arrive and move him to lie prone on his stomach on the street, telling Anderson to “relax.” As officers struggle on top of him, Anderson can be heard screaming, “Help, they’re trying to kill me” and “Please, don’t do this.”
In footage from another responding officer, an officer can be heard repeatedly warning Anderson to stop resisting and turn over, and threatening several times to tase Anderson.
“They’re trying to George Floyd me,” says Anderson, as officers try to roll him onto his stomach.
Then, an officer deploys a taser multiple times on Anderson, who says, “I’m not resisting.”
Officers eventually handcuff and place ankle hobbles on Anderson, the video shows.
Later in the video, the Los Angeles Fire Department places Anderson, who appears conscious, onto a gurney near an ambulance. Police say in the news release that Anderson was given medical care at the scene by fire department personnel before being transported to a local hospital.
“While at the hospital, Anderson went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced deceased,” the release says.
Los Angeles police captain Kelly Muñiz said in the video that Anderson died approximately four-and-a-half hours after the use of force.
A preliminary toxicology-blood screen of Anderson’s blood samples tested positive for cocaine and marijuana, police said, adding the Los Angeles County coroner’s office is expected to conduct their own independent toxicology tests.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said the videos were published in response to calls for their release from families.
“This is not, again, to do anything other than to demonstrate our commitment to full transparency and to judge this on the merits of what the investigation shows us and to ask for the public’s patience as we go about this engagement,” he said at a news conference Wednesday.