DC teacher dies after Los Angeles police encounter

A 10th grade teacher at Digital Pioneers Academy in D.C. died in Los Angeles following cardiac arrest hours after being shocked with a Taser multiple times by police.

On Tuesday, Jan. 3, while visiting family in California, Keenan Anderson, 31, was stopped by L.A. police officers after a car accident and possible DUI.

Anderson complied at first, then began “running in the middle of the street and exhibiting erratic behavior,” according to police.

The Los Angeles Police Department said officers began struggling with Anderson, holding him down and hitting at his face and body, before one of them deployed his Taser, shocking Anderson seven times — at least once for over 30 seconds.

Anderson was transported to a hospital in Santa Monica, where he went into cardiac arrest and died about four hours later.

In footage released from the officers’ body cameras, Anderson can be heard calling out for help and pleading for them to stop.

In a video statement, LAPD Capt. Kelly Muñiz said the department’s investigation division would begin investigating Anderson’s death and the use of force by officers.

The LAPD has been under nationwide scrutiny for their recurring overuse of force, which has led to the deaths of over three people already this year.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement, “No matter what these investigations determine, however, the need for urgent change is clear. We must reduce the use of force overall, and I have absolutely no tolerance for excessive force. We must also lead our city forward — finally — on the mental health crisis that has been allowed to grow, fester and cause so much harm to individual Angelenos, their families and our communities.”

Anderson was the cousin of Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In an Instagram post, Cullors said, “Keenan deserves to be alive right now, his child deserves to be raised by his father. Keenan we will fight for you and for all of our loved ones impacted by state violence.”


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A post shared by Patrisse Cullors (@osopepatrisse)

Cullors told The Washington Post on Thursday that she’s joining community residents and activists calling for the resignation of police Chief Michel Moore and for the officers to be held accountable for their actions that led to Anderson’s death.

Digital Pioneers Academy published a statement about Anderson’s death, saying, “Our community is grieving. But we’re also angry. Angry that, once again, a known, loved, and respected member of our community is no longer with us. Angry that another talented, beautiful black soul is gone too soon.”

The school’s founder, Mashea Ashton, said she was in touch with his family and that the school will have to figure out how to move forward while mourning their loss.

Anderson was the father of a 6-year-old boy.

Ciara Wells

Ciara Wells is the Evening Digital Editor at WTOP. She is a graduate of American University where she studied journalism and Spanish. Before joining WTOP, she was the opinion team editor at a student publication and a content specialist at an HBCU in Detroit.

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