Family members of Keenan Anderson, a Black man who went into cardiac arrest and died earlier this month after Los Angeles police tased and shackled him following a traffic collision, gathered with several local elected officials in front of City Hall 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.
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.
“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.”
The death of the 31-year-old English teacher 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, the father of a 6-year-old, 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.”
Patrisse 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.
Anderson’s family later addressed the City Council during public comment, along with a number of speakers who called for more police accountability.
Councilman Curren Price — presiding over Tuesday’s meeting as president pro tempore — expressed condolences following the three deaths. Councilwoman Eunisses Hernandez then walked over to speak to the family in the chamber.
“I think everyone around this horseshoe certainly expects police to protect and serve, but we want to make sure they are accountable and we are all committed to make sure that occurs,” Price said.
Later, attendees interrupted the meeting after chanting ”say his name,” followed by the names of the three men who died before leaving the chamber voluntarily, though police had begun encircling those who were shouting.
At the briefing, three council members — Hernandez, Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Hugo Soto-Martinez — and County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath spoke in support of reform. Former Councilman Mike Bonin also attended.
“I will not be convinced by anybody that any of those people deserved to have their life taken, least of Keenan Anderson,” Harris-Dawson said. “His students should be able to learn from him. His family should be able to love him. His community should still have him at this moment.”
Harris-Dawson said a pair of motions addressing unarmed mental health responses and providing an alternative to policing for traffic stops are winding their way through the council.
Moore said last week that the investigation into Anderson’s death was ongoing, but noted Anderson was tased six times during the struggle with officers, a number that raised concerns.
“In my preliminary review of this incident, it’s unclear what the role of that Taser was,” Moore said. “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.”
“If your loved one was going through a mental health crisis right now, what would you do? Call 911?” Hernandez said. “Many of the people in the videos were killed when people called 911 for help. They wanted help. They wanted care. And instead they were met with the system which is built — which is law enforcement, which is guns, which is tasers, which is those rubber bullets.”
Hernandez called for more mental health and supportive services.
“We cannot let this moment pass us,” she said.