Anderson, a 31-year-old high school English teacher working in Washington, D.C., died in LAPD custody hours after he was involved in a traffic accident in Venice on Jan. 3. In an edited release of LAPD body camera footage released on January 11, 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 then cuffed, and taken away in an ambulance. 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 Anderson experienced a medical emergency, but critics said in essence, the LAPD killed him rather than helped him.
"If you Tase someone with 50,000 watts of electrical energy six times in the heart, is there really any wonder that moments later his heart would begin to flutter?" Attorneys Carl Douglas said in a press conference announcing a $50 million claim against the LAPD. "Is there really any wonder that moments later his heart would begin to beat erratically? And is there any wonder why four hours later his heart could no longer withstand the pressure from that Taser and gave out?"
In that original release, the LAPD left out roughly seven minutes of Anderson's interaction with that initial officer before Anderson ran into the street. In the full version released Monday, Anderson and the officer are heard discussing what led to the crash. Anderson is heard yelling "Help" several times and even asking for a lawyer.
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Protesters have spoken out since Anderson's death, calling for reforms like having police no longer be the primary responders for minor traffic accidents and restrictions on the use of tasers. Protesters have also criticized the fact 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.
Anderson's case is just one of three deaths involving LAPD officers in the first days of the new year. Takar Smith and Oscar Leon Sanchez were both shot and killed by police earlier this month. Smith on Jan. 2 and Sanchez on Jan. 3.
Jamie McBride, director of the Los Angeles Police Protective League said in response to the protests of the three cases that "we, the union, stand behind all of our officers involved in all three incidents that they did everything correctly."