Keenan Anderson, a 31-year-old father and teacher, was killed by the Los Angeles Police Department on Jan. 3. Anderson was repeatedly tased by police and, as a result, went into cardiac arrest. After about four and a half hours, he lost his life at a nearby hospital.
The LAPD says a toxicology report found traces of cannabis and cocaine in Anderson’s blood and that he was involved in a felony hit-and-run. In the body cam footage, Anderson acts erratically and incoherently. The police will use the excuse that Anderson was on drugs, committed a property crime, and was exhibiting strange behavior as an excuse to rationalize what they’ve done—but there is no excuse. Anderson was killed because the police do not have the capacity to protect or serve the citizens they’ve been sworn to protect. Especially Black citizens.
The body cam footage, which was released quicker than usual by the LAPD because of public interest, shows Anderson jogging in and out of the street. Anderson looks scared and anxious and tells a police officer that somebody is trying to kill him. At one point, an officer gets Anderson to sit on the ground with his legs crossed, but more police arrive on the scene and he gets up and enters the street. It’s not long before the police start commanding Anderson to lie down on his stomach. When he doesn’t immediately comply, they begin to apply excessive force. During the struggle, you can hear police officers telling Anderson to relax, while they’re physically doing just the opposite, applying greater and greater force. Anderson pleads for help, begging the cops to stop what they’re doing. He ominously shouted “they’re trying to George Floyd me.”
Anderson, who taught 10th grade English at Digital Pioneers Academy in Washington, D.C., was in Los Angeles visiting family during the winter break. He is a cousin of Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, who has been the subject of controversy for how she and the organization have misused funds.
While Anderson’s behavior was strange and he frequently refused to comply with police orders, the fact of the matter is that this should not be a death sentence. Especially for someone who was obviously in a poor mental state and needed help instead of brute force—which seems like all the police department is good for. According to CNN, Anderson’s death marks the third at the hands of the LAPD in this short year.
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