Keenan Anderson: Remembering a Tragic Loss

Keenan Anderson, a respected African American man, passed away on January 3, 2023, under distressing circumstances. His death occurred approximately four and a half hours after he was restrained and subjected to repeated taser deployments by a member of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Anderson’s tragic story is not only a tale of personal loss but has also become a focal point in discussions about law enforcement and public safety.

A Life Cut Short

Keenan Darnell Anderson, aged 31 at the time of his passing, was a dedicated high school English teacher in Washington, D.C. He taught at the Digital Pioneers Academy, impacting the lives of young students with his passion for education. Although based in Washington, Anderson was visiting his family in Los Angeles during the winter break when the incident occurred. He was not just a teacher; he was also a devoted father and a cherished cousin of Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the influential Black Lives Matter movement.

A Fateful Encounter

The sequence of events leading to Anderson’s untimely death began on January 3, 2023, when a vehicular accident unfolded at the intersection of Venice Boulevard and Lincoln Boulevard in Venice, Los Angeles. The LAPD was alerted to the incident around 3:35 p.m. According to LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore, Anderson was involved in a hit-and-run during a traffic collision and allegedly attempted to enter another person’s car without permission. A witness who identified as an Uber driver captured footage that indicated Anderson’s involvement in the accident and suggested that he tried to steal a vehicle after hitting other cars.

A Tragic Turn of Events

The situation escalated when Anderson, who appeared to be in a distressed state, interacted with law enforcement officers. He claimed that someone was trying to harm him and mentioned that “they’re trying to George Floyd me,” referring to the tragic death of George Floyd in 2020. As officers engaged with Anderson, tensions rose, ultimately leading to his attempts to escape.

Despite Anderson’s pleas and cries for help, officers restrained him, and a taser was deployed multiple times. In total, Anderson was tasered six times in just 42 seconds. He was subsequently handcuffed and had his legs bound.

A Mysterious Passing

Anderson was transported to a local hospital following his arrest, where he tragically passed away around four and a half hours later. His death marked the third fatality in LAPD custody in 2023. A preliminary police toxicology report indicated the presence of cocaine and marijuana in Anderson’s system.

Seeking Answers and Justice

In the wake of Anderson’s death, investigations were launched into the circumstances surrounding his passing, along with the deaths of two other civilians involved in unrelated police incidents. The Los Angeles mayor, Karen Bass, emphasized the importance of transparency and accountability in these investigations, vowing that involved officers would be placed on immediate leave. Regardless of the investigations’ outcomes, the mayor stressed the need to reduce the use of force in law enforcement.

An autopsy report from the Los Angeles County coroner, released on June 2, 2023, cited the cause of Anderson’s death as “effects of cardiomyopathy and cocaine use,” though the exact manner of his death remained undetermined.

A Call for Change

Anderson’s cousin, Patrisse Cullors, called for the resignation of Chief Moore and the officers involved in the incident, emphasizing that Anderson needed care and did not receive it. The family of Keenan Anderson announced their intention to sue the city of Los Angeles, seeking $100 million in damages and alleging unlawful assault and battery by police officers.

Voices Raised in Protest

In response to Anderson’s tragic death, protests were held in Los Angeles in January and February 2023. His passing continues to be a poignant reminder of the urgent need for reform and a renewed commitment to ensuring public safety and justice for all.