Why the Police Had to Deal with Keenan Anderson
Keenan Anderson was high on cocaine and weed on January 3, 2023, at about 3:35 in the afternoon. He was driving his BMW at the intersection of Venice Boulevard and Lincoln Boulevard in Los Angeles. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous and illegal even if the driver doesn’t crash, but Keenan Anderson did crash his BMW into other cars. Instead of remaining at the scene, as the law requires, Anderson ran from his crash.
Next, Anderson apparently tried to carjack an Uber driver, but failed to get into the car and continued running. The driver said, “I am Uber driver and he was trying to steal my car while he hit other cars right here.” The driver did not use the word carjack, but civilians rarely use technical crime labels. If the driver was in the car when Anderson tried to “steal it,” then Anderson committed an attempted carjacking. The driver may have been standing near the car while Anderson attempted to steal it. This seems less likely because Anderson would need a key to start the car. It also seems unlikely that an Uber driver would have his car parked and be standing near it, rather than driving it to a fare, or driving it to an area where he could expect a fare. Even if Anderson were only trying to steal an empty car, that’s still grand theft of an automobile, which is a felony, although less serious than carjacking.
Bystanders saw the crash and watched Anderson run. They flagged down an LAPD officer who saw Anderson running into the street. The officer radios in the call, describes it as a possible DUI, and asks for backup.
The officer approached Anderson, who was running in the middle of the street. It’s important to understand that it is illegal to run from the scene of a traffic collision, and it’s illegal to run in the middle of the street. Although Anderson was not protecting himself from being hit by a car, the officer protected Anderson and everyone else by ordering Anderson out of the street. Anderson said, “somebody is trying to kill me” but wouldn’t say who, and eventually got out of the street.
The officer told Anderson to sit on the sidewalk. Anderson wouldn’t sit down at first, and said things that didn’t make sense. Instead of telling the officer that he was high and had crashed his car, he told the officer that his car broke down and that he was asking for repairs. The officer stayed with Anderson and spoke to him for about 7 minutes.
Then Anderson got up and tried to leave. He asked the officer for water; the officer agreed. He asked to sit in a place where he could be seen; the officer agreed. But he wouldn’t sit down. The officer said, “I don’t want you in the road” but Anderson ran away from the officer back into the intersection.
The officer caught back up with Anderson in the middle of the road. He yelled at Anderson to get on the ground. Anderson complied. He told Anderson to get on his stomach. Anderson did not get on his stomach. Other officers came to help put handcuffs on Anderson, who was becoming more and more irate. He was shouting things that didn’t make sense. The officer said, “Keenan, relax!” But Anderson did not relax and shouted, “they are trying to kill me!” The video doesn’t not show the officers trying to kill Anderson or hurt him in any way.
As Anderson continued to try to avoid handcuffing, the officers warned him 13 times that if he did not stop, they would tase him. He did not stop. Anderson shouted, “these are actors!” One black officer had an elbow near Anderson’s neck as the officer attempted to grab Anderson’s wrist. A third officer warned the black officer “watch your elbow,” and the black officer moved his elbow.
Officers were able to put handcuffs and leg restraints on Anderson, as Anderson said, “This is an act… they’re not police.” After he was handcuffed, Anderson said, “They think I killed C Lo… They’re trying to sedate me… I know too much… they sedated me.”
Anderson was Given Immediate Medical Care and Taken to the Hospital
After Anderson was restrained, Anderson was conscious and speaking. He continued to make claims that were not connected with reality, like “I know too much” and “they’re trying to sedate me.”
Officer rolled Anderson on his side to make sure that he could breathe while he was restrained.
Officers let paramedics from the Los Angeles Fire Department examine Anderson to make sure that he was not hurt by the taser.
LAFD could not take him to a hospital in the fire truck, so they waited for an ambulance. Anderson was placed in a wheelchair.
The ambulance arrived five minutes later and took Anderson to the hospital. Four and a half hours after he was arrested he died from a heart attack.
The Toxicology Unit of the Forensic Science Division tested Anderson’s blood. They found cocaine metabolite and THC.
The situation was summarized by the Uber driver, who can be heard on a cell phone recording. He says, “That guy right there, he caused that accident, he was trying to steal my car. Yeah, the police is doing the right job right now. Don’t think that the police is trying to abuse him.”
The Arrest Video
There are a lot of videos about the death of Keenan Anderson. Most of them are short, sensationalized news segments that don’t show the complete arrest. LAPD put out a longer version that appears to contain all the relevant body camera video, along with commentary from the Department. It is age-restricted and can be seen here.
This incident is a test for the body worn camera and the anti-police movement. Body worn camera should also protect police in situations like this, where the officers acted appropriately and the suspect did not. That’s one of the reasons why police agencies agreed to the cameras.
But if media refuses to show the actual video, or edits in a deceptive way, or gatekeeps the video in a way that makes it difficult for people to see what actually happened, then the police agencies don’t get the benefit of the video.
Did Tasers kill Keenan Anderson?
Keenan Anderson’s decision to drive while high caused his car crash. His decision to get high probably contributed to his decision to try to carjack the Uber driver. His decision to get high probably contributed to his decision to run from the cops. In other words, if Keenan Anderson had not done drugs, this would not have happened. The first cause of Keenan Anderson’s death is Keenan Anderson.
Did the officers contribute to his death with their tasers? We will have a credibility answer after an autopsy. In the meantime, there is “no consensus” that tasers are dangerous to the heart. Even among those who believe that tasers are dangerous to the heart, the danger presents at the time of the taser use, not four hours later in a hospital. It’s important to remember that Anderson’s heart was beating after the incident, in the ambulance, all the way to the hospital, for four and half hours before his death. But the electrical effect of the taser was long over when he died.
There is a consensus among doctors that cocaine kills in the exact way that Keenan Anderson died. Cardiotoxicity induced by cocaine can result in sudden death. In other words, cocaine can cause a heart attack. Cocaine or its metabolites can stay in your system for 2-3 days.
Keenan Anderson’s family is asking for $50 million dollars for his death. That might give them a reason to shade the story in their favor.
Featured image from PJ Media.