Keenan Anderson, a 31-year-old teacher, and father, was killed on January 3rd following an encounter with LAPD officers. Video footage of the incident, caught on an LAPD officer’s bodycam, was released on Wednesday, January 11. According to reports, Anderson was involved in a traffic accident in Venice, Los Angeles which prompted the arrival of LAPD officers. According to reports, the first officer to arrive on the scene of the accident approached Anderson, who was in the middle of the road and asked him to move to the sidewalk. It is reported that the officer ordered Anderson to get against the wall, commands he followed before being prompted to sit on the sidewalk. Things seemingly took a turn for the worst when Anderson had a disagreement with the police officer regarding where he was seated. Anderson said, “I want people to see me” and “You’re putting a thing on me.”
Anderson then fled from the police officer, which escalated the situation. He was chased by the aforementioned police officer, who was reportedly on his motorcycle. Anderson was eventually caught by the police officer, who was joined by other LAPD officers. As he lay on the ground with several police officers holding him down, Anderson called out for help, claiming “They’re trying to kill me.” With one of the police officers placing an elbow on Anderson’s neck and his weight on his body, the victim called out that the police officers were trying to “George Floyd” him. Anderson was tased several times, with reports saying he was tased for 30 seconds straight. During all this Anderson repeatedly called for help, which was not forthcoming from any of the police officers. Anderson was taken to a hospital in Santa Monica by paramedics but unfortunately suffered cardiac arrest four and a half hours later and died.
Keenan Anderson is the cousin of Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors who lamented the situation’s fatal outcome. “My cousin was asking for help, and he didn’t receive it. He was killed,” Cullors told the UK publication The Guardian, after watching the LAPD officers footage. “Nobody deserves to die in fear, panicking and scared for their life. My cousin was scared for his life. He spent the last 10 years witnessing a movement challenging the killing of Black people. He knew what was at stake and he was trying to protect himself. Nobody was willing to protect him.”
Cullors questioned why a situation as simple as a traffic accident ended with her cousin dead.
“It was a traffic accident. Instead of treating him like a potential criminal, police should have called the ambulance,” said Cullors. “If there was a policy in which traffic stops were met with unarmed professionals who come to the scene to help with whatever situation has happened, that would have prevented my cousin’s death. And that would have prevented so many other deaths.” Cullors said these kinds of situations would continue if elected officials did not challenge police authorities as well as policies.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore addressed the incident at a press conference. Moore said Anderson was behaving erratically and had suffered a medical emergency. He went on to reveal that preliminary blood tests had shown Anderson had cannabis and cocaine in his system. However, this revelation was criticized by advocates because a well-investigated cause of death had not been revealed, and the department insinuation that drugs had caused Anderson’s death. Moore went on to reveal that the taser used by the LAPD officers on Anderson was activated 10 times. “It’s unclear what role the physical struggle with the officers and the use of the taser played in his unfortunate death,” he said. Moore said close attention would be paid to the role of the taser in the incident.
Keenan Anderson was an English teacher at Digital Pioneers Academy, a majority Black school, in Washington, D.C. A father of one, Anderson had been visiting family in Los Angeles for the holidays at the time he was killed. He was previously employed at a charter school in Watts, LA.
Digital Pioneers Academy released a statement at the time of his death. “We are deeply saddened by the death of Mr. Keenan Anderson, a 10th-grade English teacher at Digital Pioneers Academy,” the school said in its statement. “The details of his death are as disturbing as they are tragic. He suffered cardiac arrest after being forcibly restrained and repeatedly tased by police following a traffic accident. Keenan is the third person killed by the Los Angeles Police Department in 2023, and we’re 12 days into the new year.”