LOS ANGELES - Family and friends of Keenan Anderson who gathered with community members in front of Los Angeles City Hall had one simple message Tuesday — he didn't deserve to die.
Anderson, a 31-year-old high school English teacher working in Washington, D.C., died in LAPD custody after he was involved in a traffic accident in Venice on Jan. 3. In an edited release of LAPD body camera footage, Anderson is seen running from officers through traffic, acting "agitated" as police said, ultimately taken to the ground over a period of minutes, shocked with a Taser six or seven times.
Anderson was eventually cuffed, an ambulance was called, and he died at the hospital some four hours later. His autopsy and cause of death are on "security hold" at the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office. The LAPD has only said he experienced a still unexplained medical emergency, but critics said in essence, the LAPD killed him rather than helped him.
Many organizers called for police to no longer be the primary responders for minor traffic accidents, and for restrictions on the use of Tasers, noting that none of the department's mental health officials were called to the scene. Instead, eight officers took Anderson into custody, and the Taser was used at least six times.
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Patrice Cullors, the well-known co-founder of Black Lives Matter LA, happens to be Anderson's cousin. She was one of many emotional speakers in the chambers of LA City Council Tuesday. She spoke to reporters on the steps of City Hall.
"We know all too well the ways that law enforcement starts a painful cycle of death in our communities," Cullors said. "We want to see the unedited footage, we want Mayor [Karen] Bass not to appoint [LAPD Chief Michel] Moore for another term and want a complete reevaluation of cops at traffic stops."
Chief Moore knows this is a controversial case that is under investigation, in particular focusing on the repeated use of that Taser.
Meantime, those speaking out on Anderson's death want to make sure they turn their anger into change, so he will not have died in vain.