Keenan Anderson, cousin of Black Lives Matter (BLM) co-founder Patrisse Cullors, died on 3 January 2023 after being repeatedly tasered and restrained by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) following a traffic incident.
According to the BBC, the 31-year-old high school teacher and father died in a hospital in Santa Monica after going into cardiac arrest. The police who tasered Anderson had initially been called to the scene in regard to an ongoing traffic accident in the Venice neighbourhood of Los Angeles.
Police chief Michel Moore told a news conference on 11 January that Anderson had committed a felony hit-and-run in a traffic collision. He continued to state that the victim had attempted to flee the scene by trying to “get into another person’s car without their permission.”
The LAPD have only now released body camera footage of the day in question. In it, you can see Anderson in visible distress, fearful of the officers as they try to detain him. Shortly after, you can hear Anderson shout: “They’re trying to George Floyd me!”
This cry for help is clearly in reference to the horrific murder of Floyd—a black man who was killed in 2020 after white police officer Derek Chauvin aggressively restrained him by the neck for almost nine minutes. The death of Floyd subsequently ignited a global movement—spearheaded by the BLM organisation—aimed at addressing and combating police brutality and violence against black individuals.
In the case of Anderson, it’s been established by numerous news outlets that a stun gun was used on him for approximately 35 seconds altogether. Footage clearly shows officers holding Anderson down as they repeatedly taser him—all this culminating in the 31-year-old being transported to a nearby hospital where he died only four hours later.
A recent New York Times (NYT) investigation analysed the use of tasers in the line of duty. According to the publication, at least 500 people in the US have died by stun gun use since 2001. Moreover, a 2008 review of hundreds of deaths involving taser use by Amnesty International—featured in the NYT article—revealed that 90 per cent of those who’d died had been unarmed.
It should also be noted that official police executive research clearly states that when using a stun gun against an assailant, total exposure should not exceed 15 seconds. Anderson was tasered for 35 seconds.
BLM co-founder Cullors told The Guardian: “My cousin was asking for help, and he didn’t receive it. He was killed. Nobody deserves to die in fear, panicking and scared for their life. My cousin was scared for his life. He spent the last ten 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.”
The footage adds to mounting pressure on the LAPD, whose encounters with black and brown men have resulted in three deaths in under a week. Takar Smith, 45, and Oscar Sanchez, 35, were both shot dead by officers at the start of January 2023.
Cullors also went on to note how both herself and Anderson had moved to Los Angeles in hopes of escaping the rife racism they’d faced living in Louisiana. They’d sought out a “western haven” and this death makes it unbearably evident that even those US states considered proponents of inclusivity and equality are still overwhelmingly lethal.