In less than a week into the new year, the Los Angeles Police Department has been responsible for three deaths. Keenan Anderson, 31, died on Jan. 3 after being tasered by an officer in Venice Beach, according to a news release. He is the cousin of Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors.
In commenting on her cousin’s death, Cullors said Anderson “deserves to be alive right now, his child deserves to be raised by his father.”
She added: “Keenan we will fight for you and for all of our loved ones impacted by state violence.”
Anderson leaves behind his six-year-old son, according to a statement released by his employer, Digital Pioneers Academy, a charter school in Washington D.C, where he taught 10th grade English.
Mashea Ashton, the institution’s founder and CEO, said, “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.”
His passing, Ashton said, marks the third death in the school’s community in the past 65 days.
Two high school students at the academy — Antione Manning, 14, and Jakhi Snider, 15 — died from gun violence late last year.
“Keenan’s family deserves justice,” Ashton continued. “And our students deserve to live, to live without fear, and to have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.”
The two other people killed by LAPD officers this year were identified as Takar Smith, 45, and Oscar Sanchez, 35, who were fatally shot on Jan. 3 and Jan. 2. The department is on pace to surpass the most recent data available concerning police shootings.
In 2021, 17 individuals were fatally shot by LAPD officers, according to department data.
During a news conference, Police Chief Michel Moore, said the three deaths “deeply concerned” him.
“Each of these instances resulted in a tragic loss of life,” he continued. “At this point, it appears to involve individuals experiencing a mental health crisis and/or being under the influence of narcotics or other substances.”
In May, the Los Angeles City Council approved an $87 million increase to LAPD’s budget, boosting it to $11.8 billion for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. Critics of the department argue that those funds fail to address critical failings when it comes to how the LAPD handles mental health incidents.
The department’s internal use of force board is conducting an investigation into the incidents and will pass along its findings to Moore, who will then present them to the Board of Police Commissioners. The Los Angeles Office of the Inspector General will simultaneously conduct an investigation and present its findings to commissioners.
According to LAPD’s use of force manual, officers are required to consider alternatives to harmful tactics, including verbal warnings and other de-escalation techniques.
Force should only be utilized by police in order to defend themselves and others, successfully detain a suspect, prevent escape or overcome resistance.
In Anderson’s case, Moore alleged the 31-year-old was responsible for a felony hit-and-run with his BMW around 3:30 p.m. Based on body-cam footage released by the department, Anderson dashed into the middle of an intersection after the collision. A patrol officer responded and attempted to restrain him.
Anderson expressed concern over his safety to a responding officer, asking to be spoken to in an area where he could be seen by passersby. He told police that “somebody’s trying to kill me.”
Anderson later ran away and stopped in front of a vehicle at a traffic light. Police instructed him to lay on his stomach. Officers soon forced Anderson onto the ground and into the position as he yelled, “Help! They’re trying to kill me.”
As an officer continued to issue warnings before discharging his stun gun, Anderson cried out, “They’re trying to George Floyd me.”
Anderson was ultimately tasered for nearly a minute before he was transported to a local hospital and, according to the LAPD, suffered cardiac arrest, dying later that day.
It’s not clear if the officers followed departmental guidance and Moore said he wouldn’t make a final judgment on their actions “until all the facts are in.”