LAPD accused of smearing cousin of BLM co-founder with release of toxicology report

Washington DC teacher Keenan Anderson was Tased for several minutes by LAPD officers before he died (Courtesy of Patrisse Cullors)
Washington DC teacher Keenan Anderson was Tased for several minutes by LAPD officers before he died (Courtesy of Patrisse Cullors)

The LAPD has been accused of smearing the cousin of a Black Lives Matter co-founder who died after being repeatedly tased by officers.

High school teacher Keenan Anderson was tased six times after trying to run away from police following a traffic accident in Venice, Los Angeles, on 3 January.

A toxicology report released by police showed Anderson, 31, had cannabinoids and cocaine metabolite in his system when he died later in hospital after going into cardiac arrest.

The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner has not yet ruled on his cause of death.

LAPD police chief Michel Moore told a press conference last week they were awaiting an autopsy report to determine a cause of death.

According to police, Anderson was in the process of committing a felony hit-and-run when he tried to run from officers.

Bodycam footage shows him in a distressed state begging for help, and at one point saying, “They’re trying to George Floyd me”.

Anderson, the cousin of BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors, was on a winter break from Washington DC when he was killed. He was the third Black or brown man to die after an encounter with the LAPD in 2023.

Melanie Ochoa, the  director of police practices at American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, told VICE that the LAPD’s statements about officer-involved killings were “public relations actions, they are not a public information service”.

“I think the goal of the LAPD’s PR machine is to have the public believe that the victim somehow caused their own death,” she told VICE.

Similarly to after the death of George Floyd in 2020, right-wing commentators linked Anderson’s death to the evidence of drugs in his system in the toxicology report.

However, the presence of cocaine metabolite can remain in the system for anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on the test type and other factors, according to experts.

The LAPD and the ACLU did not immediately respond to inquiries from The Independent.

In a video statement accompanying the bodycam footage, LAPD Captain Kelly Muñiz said investigations into deaths after use of force can often take up to a year to complete and often change as “additional evidence is collected, analyzed and reviewed”.