A cousin of the Black Lives Matter founder died after being repeatedly tased by the LAPD

“Keenan deserves to be alive right now.”

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Police Brutality
Originally Published: 

The Los Angeles Police Department couldn’t even make it through three days of the new year without multiple reported officer-involved deaths. On Jan. 3, 2023, Keenan Anderson — father, English teacher, and cousin of Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors — died in the hospital after being repeatedly tased by police. Anderson’s death marks the city’s third officer-involved death this year.

“The details of his death are as disturbing as they are tragic,” Mashea Ashton, founder of the school where Anderson taught 10-grade English, said in a statement, as reported by CNN. “Keenan was a deeply committed educator and father of a six-year-old son. He was beloved by all.” According to police reports, officers claimed they responded to an afternoon traffic collision, where they said they saw Anderson “running in the middle of the street and exhibiting erratic behavior.” Police body-cam footage from multiple responding officers, which was released by the LAPD, shows that Anderson initially approached an officer (who was on a motor bike) in the street and said, “Please help me,” then continued running and pointed in another direction when the officer asked, “Where are you at?”

When they reached a corner, Anderson said twice, “Somebody’s trying to kill me” and continued jogging. When the officer told him to stop, he did. “Anderson initially complied with the officer’s direction and sat on the sidewalk for several minutes,” Los Angeles police captain Kelly Muñiz said in a video statement that plays before the body-cam footage. “However, as the additional officers arrived, Anderson suddenly attempted to flee the location by running into the middle of the street.”

Then, the video cuts to a text screen saying “Anderson attempted to run away.”

The video continues after the text screen, showing Anderson jogging into the middle of a busy intersection as an officer pursues him. Anderson stops and does not seem to immediately comply with officer orders to lie prone on his stomach. Two other officers arrive and use force to move Anderson onto his stomach, commanding him to “relax.” While officers are doing this, Anderson clearly enters a state of panic, and can be heard screaming, “Help, they’re trying to kill me” and, “Please, don’t do this.” As officers threaten to tase Anderson and force him onto his stomach, he can be heard saying, “They’re trying to George Floyd me.”

At one point, video shows one officer with his elbow on Anderson’s neck, pinning Anderson in place while another officer points the taser at him and repeatedly yells, “Turn over or I’m a tase you.”

Officers then proceed to tase Anderson multiple times. Per an LAPD news release, Anderson was treated by fire department personnel at the scene and transported to a local hospital. While there, he “went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced deceased.” According to Muñiz, Anderson died approximately four-and-a-half hours after the LAPD’s use of force. The department’s initial statement, released days before the body-cam footage on Jan. 6, said it was “several hours.”

During a Jan. 11 press conference, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said, "It's unclear what role the physical struggle with the officers and the use of the Taser played in his unfortunate death.”

Anderson’s family has taken to social media to express their grief, anger, and frustration over the death of their loved one. “Keenan deserves to be alive right now, his child deserves to be raised by his father,” Cullors wrote in a Jan. 9 Instagram post. “Keenan we will fight for you and for all of our loved ones impacted by state violence.”