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BLM Calls for Justice For Keenan Anderson, as City Commission Set to Evaluate LAPD’s Role In Teacher’s Death In Venice

"What's clear is Keenan Anderson was never anything more than a passive resistor. What's clear is that a less than lethal weaponry like a Taser, when used in the wrong hands, is indeed lethal," a family attorney said.

2:05 PM PDT on October 24, 2023

    Keenan Anderson, photo via For.Everyone.Collective via Instagram

    With a city commission set to decide on whether to take disciplinary action against five police officers involved in the death of a man who was repeatedly Tasered during a confrontation in Venice, local Black Lives Matter leaders called today for justice on behalf of his family.

    The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners is set to evaluate, in closed session, the actions of the five officers who responded to a Jan. 3 traffic stop in Venice, where Keenan Anderson, a Washington, D.C. teacher, was Tasered multiple times by officers. Anderson later died from the effects of an enlarged heart and cocaine use, according to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner.

    "What's clear is Keenan Anderson was never anything more than a passive resistor. What's clear is that a less than lethal weaponry like a Taser, when used in the wrong hands, is indeed lethal," Carl Douglas, an attorney for Anderson's family, told commissioners during the panel's public comment period.

    "So I turn to you, commissioners, because by your actions in that room, you will have the chance to make a statement. A statement that all of the people of Los Angeles will be listening to," Douglas added. "A statement that says we will hold our officers responsible when they do wrong."

    Chris Anderson, Keenan's younger brother, gave short remarks to the commission. Chris recognized that Keenan "wasn't perfect to some.''

    "But in my eyes, he was trying his best,'' Chris Anderson said. "Our upbringing wasn't traditional, but that didn't stop him from being my older brother. He was my number one supporter, my number one inspiration and my competition.''

    "As my family mourns his loss, I just hope that we get justice,'' he
    added.

    Another member of the public spoke in defense of the police officers and their use of the Taser. But those remarks sparked a response from Black Lives Matter members and others in the audience who were pushing for the officers to be disciplined.

    Board president Erroll Southers ordered members of BLM be removed from the room, and the commission went into a roughly 20-minute recess.

    Anderson, a cousin of Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, was in the Los Angeles area visiting relatives during the Christmas season when he was involved in a traffic collision at Lincoln and Venice boulevards and allegedly tried to run away.

    Anderson was allegedly observed "making erratic statements and appeared agitated.''

    According to the autopsy report, Anderson fled on foot and was restrained by multiple officers who used wrist locks and hobbling techniques, and a CED (Taser).

    "External analysis of the discharged CED revealed probes were deployed without skin impact and that trigger activations were discharged to Mr. Anderson's back,'' the report said.

    In January, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said a full investigation would be conducted with a special focus on the repeated use of the Taser.

    Moore previously said "in my preliminary review of this incident, it's unclear what the role of that Taser was.''

    "To be clear, it's dependent on the totality of our investigative resources, but also on medical records from the hospital as well as a coroner's report and their formal and forensic level examination. As this investigation continues, however, I will pay close attention to the use of the Taser," Moore said.

    Moore and the LAPD later released edited body-camera footage showing the encounter between Anderson and the police officers.

    Soon afterward, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers, issued a statement insisting Anderson escalated the confrontation with his behavior, which included running away from officers into traffic. The union also asked that an unedited version of the tape be released.

    "Minor auto accidents are usually handled with an exchange of information between the drivers and a call to one's insurance carrier,'' the League said in a statement. "On the other hand, when an individual who is high on cocaine is in an accident, tries to open the car door of an innocent driver, and then flees the scene by running into traffic, police officers must act."

    Prior to the Board of Police Commissioners Tuesday meeting, members BLM Grassroots, BLM-Los Angeles, Stop the LAPD Spying Coalition, White People 4 Black Lives, and The Row Church, also known as the "church without
    roles," held a news conference to call for the removal of LAPD Chief Michel
    Moore, restrictions on the use of Tasers and removal of police from assignments
    such as traffic stops and mental health situations.

    Melina Abdullah, co-founder of BLM-LA and BLM Grassroots, reiterated the commission will rule whether the Tasing of Keenan Anderson was within department policy, which will set up the road for discipline of the officers, if any.

    "We say it's an outrage that we had to wait this long. That of course, when you steal life, it should be out of policy. Of course when you should be disciplined, and of course, police who steal life shouldn't get to keep their jobs," Abdullah said.

    "Instead, police should be removed from traffic stops," Abdullah
    said. "We should be investing the city's budget in the things that actually
    make the city safer, add mental health resources, good jobs for our people and
    after school programs."

    Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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