Family files $50 million claim over death of Keenan Anderson after LAPD Taser incident

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Saturday, January 21, 2023
Family files $50 million claim over death of Keenan Anderson
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Family attorneys said Anderson was just an unarmed man complying with police orders until he was swarmed by officers with a "warrior mentality."

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Attorneys for the family of Keenan Anderson on Friday announced a $50 million damages claim against the city of Los Angeles over the death of the 31-year-old teacher, who was Tasered multiple times during a struggle with LAPD officers in Venice and died at a hospital.

Members of Anderson's family attended a news conference, including Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement and a cousin of Anderson.

Family members - including Anderson's wife and 5-year-old son - gathered with several local elected officials in front of City Hall on Tuesday, calling for several LAPD reforms. At the briefing, organizers called for police to not be sent for minor traffic accidents, and for restrictions on the use of tasers.

"I mean six times, in 42 seconds, this is dangerous, potentially fatal," said Civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

They also sought the release of unedited footage of Anderson's death, an end to qualified immunity for officers and the removal of Police Chief Michel Moore, who is seeking re-appointment for a second term.

After more than a week of silence, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers, is defending the officers involved in three deadly arrests earlier this month.

"If you continue to blame the victim and not hold officers accountable, why would they ever stop killing us?" said Dominique Anderson, Keenan's younger sister. "The police are supposed to be here to protect and serve the people, and yet they abuse their authority and have a lack of respect for human life."

Police said Anderson was arrested for felony hit-and-run after causing a traffic accident then trying to get into another person's car. Civil rights attorney Carl Douglas dismissed the allegations, saying Anderson was just an unarmed man complying with police orders until he was swarmed by officers with a "warrior mentality."

The official cause of Anderson's death has not yet been determined. His death came after paramedics at the scene checked him out and after he was taken to a hospital, which is standard protocol when someone is Tased.

Investigators said he began showing signs of health problems four hours after his arrest. Moore said tests revealed Anderson tested positive for cocaine and cannabis.

Attorneys for Anderson's family said their $50 million complaint is designed to force the city to change how police deal with people of color.

Anderson's death was one of three following encounters with LAPD officers since the start of the new year, sparking widespread condemnation. Los Angeles police fatally shot Takar Smith on Jan. 2 and Oscar Leon Sanchez on Jan. 3.

Anderson had been a teacher for more than eight years, the past six months at Digital Pioneers Academy, a charter school in Washington, D.C. Anderson had been in the Los Angeles area visiting relatives during the holidays.

"He also deserves to be hugging his son, but instead his son is left fatherless because of a chance encounter with LAPD taking Keenan's life," Anderson said. " And our family is left to pick up those pieces. Keenan was not a threat to any of those officers on that day."

Cullors, a cousin of Anderson and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, pledged to "fight like hell" for Anderson to receive justice because "you deserve justice."

"Keenan, you deserve compassion. Keenan, you deserve to be in your classroom, supporting your students. Keenan, you deserve to have your wedding day. Keenan, you deserve to be raising your son," Cullors said.

City News Service contributed to this report.