Students, faculty and community members at Digital Pioneers Academy Public Charter School (PCS) in Southeast continue to mourn the loss of a teacher who died from cardiac arrest after an encounter with police officers in Los Angeles. 

On Jan. 3, Keenan Anderson, a 10th grade English and Language Arts instructor at Digital Pioneers Academy PCS, died in a Los Angeles hospital hours after officers with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) repeatedly shocked him with a Taser stun gun and arrested him at the scene of a car accident. 

At the time of his death, Anderson had been visiting family in Los Angeles during winter break. 

Body camera footage released and edited by LAPD showed Anderson, 31, speaking with the officers before the video cuts off and transitions to text saying Anderson “attempted to run away.” When the video resumes, Anderson is seen jogging toward an intersection where he eventually stops and two officers attempt to lay him on his stomach. 

Footage from another officer’s camera showed that officer repeatedly asking Anderson to comply. Anderson could be heard yelling, “They’re trying to George Floyd me.” Shortly after, an officer stuns Anderson with a Taser several times as he repeats, “I’m not resisting.”  

From that point, officers handcuff Anderson and place shackles on his ankles. 

In a press release, LAPD said Anderson was given medical care at the scene before being transported to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. In their report, LAPD said a preliminary toxicology screening detected cocaine and marijuana in Anderson’s bloodstream. The Los Angeles Coroner’s Office will soon conduct its own toxicology screening. 

Since Anderson’s death, many people have taken to social media in demand of answers and accountability. Patricia Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter and Anderson’s cousin, counted among those who quickly designated the incident as a murder

Anderson is the third person that has been killed this year during police encounters in  Los Angeles. LAPD is currently investigating the police-involved shooting deaths of Takar Smith, 45, and Oscar Sanchez, 35. Body camera footage from both incidents has been released. 

Anderson had more than eight years of teaching and leadership experience under his belt. Administrators said that he established strong relationships with students and staff in the six months he worked at Digital Pioneers Academy PCS. 

In a statement, Digital Pioneers Academy PCS founder and CEO Mashea Ashton revealed that Anderson counted as the third person the school community lost to violence this academic year. Months prior Antoine Manning and Jakhi Snider were shot and killed during separate incidents. 

Ashton went on to mull over the circumstances of Anderson’s death, and what it means for young people who often live in fear of being in similar situations. 

“Our school community will inevitably ask some really important questions in the days and weeks ahead,” Ashton said. 

“How could the police have de-escalated this situation? How are we going to stop losing our Black boys and men to violence?” Ashton continued. “How do we grieve and move forward as a community?  We all deserve answers to these questions. Keenan’s family deserves justice. And our students deserve to live, to live without fear, and to have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.”

Sam P.K. Collins

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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1 Comment

  1. This man needed medical attention. He was obviously under the influence or having some kind of psychiatric break or possibly suffered some kind of trauma in the accident. This is one more example of why we need a psychiatric social worker on call 24/7 and not a taser. I am not sure what useful purpose a taser has anyway. It seems that the damage it inflicts is far worse than any benefit it offers.

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