Cousin of Black Lives Matter Founder Dead After Being Tased by Los Angeles Police

LAPD officers use taser to subdue Keenan Anderson, who died four hours later. Credit: LAPD

Los Angeles resident Keenan Darnell Anderson died after an altercation with Los Angeles police officers. The incident occurred on January 3, after an alleged hit-and-run accident in which the civilian was involved. The bodycam footage, which was released on Wednesday, shows one of the officers tasing Anderson repeatedly as he was being held down by two other law enforcement officials.


The police claimed Anderson had been involved in an accident and attempted to flee the scene. He is the cousin of Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter organization. A police spokesperson explained that Anderson passed away at the hospital after “suffering a medical emergency about four and a half hours after his arrest,” according to NBC News.

The incident began around 3:35 p.m., when LAPD officers were flagged down about a traffic accident. Witnesses at the scene directed one of the officers to Anderson and indicated that he caused the accident.

The footage shows Anderson in the middle of the street saying, “Please help me,” before running away. One of the officers later told the civilian to “get off to the side,” and Anderson responded by claiming someone was trying to kill him.

He later kneeled down on the sidewalk and put his hands behind his head. “I didn’t mean to,” he said, as the officer approached.

“Please. Please, sir, I didn’t mean to, sir. Please. Please. I’m sorry,” he said.

Kelly Muñiz, a police spokesperson, said in a video statement that Anderson remained on the ground for several minutes, but “as the additional officers arrived, Anderson suddenly attempted to flee the location by running into the middle of the street.”


“The officers gave chase and ordered Anderson to stop. Anderson ultimately stopped and was ordered to get on the ground. As the officers attempted to take Anderson into custody, he became increasingly agitated, uncooperative, and resisted the officers,” Muñiz continued.

Cullors excoriated the police officers for their treatment of Anderson. “My cousin was asking for help, and he didn’t receive it. He was killed,” she told the Guardian. “Nobody deserves to die in fear, panicking and scared for their life. My cousin was scared for his life. He spent the last 10 years witnessing a movement challenging the killing of Black people. He knew what was at stake and he was trying to protect himself. Nobody was willing to protect him.”

The footage shows Anderson lying on his back as several officers tell him to turn over onto his stomach. When he did not turn over, one of the officers threatened to tase him if he does not comply.

“Please, sir, don’t do this,” Anderson said in the video. “Please, help me, please. … They’re trying to kill me. Please, please, please, please, please, please.”

“They’re trying to George Floyd me,” Anderson yelled, referring to the murder of George Floyd in 2020.


The footage shows the officer repeatedly tased Anderson, even after he rolled onto his stomach. He passed away at about 8:15 p.m. in the hospital, later that night.

“If there’s an accident, then it should be ambulance and firefighters. There should be professionals who are trained in crisis management,” Cullors said. “If my cousin did not have to interact with LAPD that day, he would be alive.”

Muñiz explained that a report from the LAPD’s toxicology unit revealed that Anderson tested positive for cocaine metabolite and cannabinoids. The county coroner’s office will conduct an independent toxicology test. So far, the cause of death has not been released to the public.

Since Anderson is black, and the relative of a prominent BLM leader, this case will likely get national coverage even before–and after–the toxicology report is released. The conversation will certainly center on race. But there also might be discussion of whether the officer involved was justified in his repeated use of the taser, even after Anderson was not a threat.

Right now, it is unclear whether Anderson was killed by the taser, the drugs, or a combination of both. But the footage does raise valid questions as to whether the officer was justified in how he used the taser – especially when Anderson was unarmed and not posing a threat while the other officers held him down.


To me, it seemed excessive, unnecessary, and possibly deadly. But if the LAPD’s regulations allow for this level of force on an unarmed suspect, it seems a review of these regulations might be in order. Unfortunately, if it turns out the taser was the primary contributor to Anderson’s death, the national conversation will focus more on his race than anything that might prevent these outcomes in the future.


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