Credit: Courtesy of Digital Pioneers Academy

Keenan Anderson, a high school English teacher at Digital Pioneers Academy in D.C., died hours after L.A. Police Department officers repeatedly shocked him with a Taser earlier this month following a vehicle collision. An LAPD officer tased Anderson, 31, in the middle of the street as other officers held him down and tried to handcuff him, according to body camera footage of the Jan. 3 incident released this week.

Anderson is a father and the cousin of Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors. He was taken to the hospital and went into cardiac arrest. He died hours after the police encounter. 

“He was killed by LAPD in Venice on January 3rd, 2023,” Cullors posted on Instagram this week. “Keenan deserves to be alive right now, his child deserves to be raised by his father. Keenan we will fight for you and for all of our loved ones impacted by state violence. I love you.”

Body camera footage shows an officer approach Anderson in the middle of the street following a vehicle collision. “Please help me,” Anderson says. He follows the officer’s commands to sit on the sidewalk, and the two have a brief conversation before Anderson gets up, and says, “I want people to see me.” A person off camera can be heard saying “We’re all watching you. You’re OK.”

Anderson then walks into the street, as the officer tells him to sit back down. The officer chases Anderson into the street and orders him “roll over on your stomach.” Multiple officers then grab Anderson as he pleads for help.

“Please don’t do this. Please don’t do this, sir. Help me, please. Help me, please,” Anderson says as officers wrestle him to the ground and try to put him in handcuffs. While one officer has his elbow on Andrson’s neck and others appear to be holding him down, another officer warns: “Turn over or I’m gonna tase you.”

“They’re trying to George Floyd me,” Anderson says. 

The officer with the Taser repeatedly shocks Anderson even as other officers hold him down with their body weight and put him in handcuffs.

LAPD Chief Michael Moore claimed that preliminary toxicology tests showed cocaine and marijuana in Anderson’s system. He said, “It’s unclear what role the physical struggle with the officers and the use of the Taser played in his unfortunate death,” according to news reports. Moore also noted there is no limit to the number of times an officer can use a Taser, but said “officers should generally avoid repeated or simultaneous activations to avoid potential injury.”

Anderson is the third person who has died at the hands of LAPD officers this year.

Digital Pioneers Academy founder Mashea Ashton says in a statement that the details of Anderson’s 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.”

Ashton notes that Anderson is the third member of the school community to be harmed by violence in the past two and a half months. Antoine Manning, a 14-year-old student, and Jakhi Snider, a 15-year-old student, were both shot and killed in separate incidents in D.C. last year. Ashton says the school community is asking important questions, such as how the police could have de-escalated the situation with Anderson, how can we stop losing Black men and boys to violence, and how to move forward.

“Our community is grieving,” Ashton says in her statement. “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.”

Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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