A Black Lives Matter co-founder blames the Los Angeles Police Department for her cousin's death after he was tased by police at a traffic stop and later died after going into cardiac arrest at a local hospital, one of three fatal Los Angeles officer-involved incidents this year.
In a news release last week, the LAPD said officers responded to a traffic collision call in the Venice area around 3:38p on January 3 and saw Keenan Anderson, 31, "running in the middle of the street and exhibiting erratic behavior."
Black Lives Matter co-founder issues statement on cousin's death following police encounter
03:02 - Source: CNN
Los Angeles CNN  — 

Attorneys representing the estate of Keenan Anderson, who died from cardiac arrest after he was repeatedly tased by Los Angeles Police Department officers, filed a $50 million claim of damages against the city of Los Angeles for his death, they announced in a news conference Friday. 

The claim is the first step needed to file a lawsuit against the city, attorney Carl Douglas said.

The claim requests $35 million due to damages against Anderson’s son and $15 million for Anderson’s estate, saying the city “failed to properly train the involved officers” who ultimately used “unreasonable deadly force.” 

Anderson, who is the cousin of Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, was tased repeatedly as officers struggled to arrest him at the scene of a traffic collision on January 3, edited body-worn camera footage released by police shows.

The English teacher from Washington, DC was in Los Angeles visiting family.

The Los Angeles city attorney’s office told CNN it has no comment on the lawsuit, and the Los Angeles Police Department said it does not comment on pending litigation. CNN also has reached out to the Los Angeles mayor’s office.  

The city has 45 days to either accept or deny the claim, Douglas said, and if it denies the claim the estate’s legal team will move forward with a state lawsuit. The lawsuit would claim wrongful death and negligence, among other claims, the filing says.

‘Help, they’re trying to kill me’

The edited video from body-worn cameras shows Anderson at first talking with one officer, and when the video resumes, he jogs into the street as the officer pursues him and orders him to lay down on his stomach.

Anderson does not appear to comply immediately, and two other officers arrive and move him to lie prone on his stomach on the street, telling Anderson to “relax.” As officers struggle on top of him, Anderson can be heard screaming, “Help, they’re trying to kill me” and “Please, don’t do this.”

Then, an officer deploys a taser multiple times on Anderson, who says, “I’m not resisting.”

Later in the video, the Los Angeles Fire Department places Anderson, who appears conscious, onto a gurney near an ambulance. Police said in a news release that Anderson was given medical care at the scene before being transported to a local hospital.

“While at the hospital, Anderson went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced deceased,” the release says. 

A preliminary toxicology-blood screen of Anderson’s blood samples tested positive for cocaine and marijuana, police said, adding the Los Angeles County coroner’s office was expected to conduct its own independent toxicology tests.

“Having to hear Keenan cry out for help the way he did and to watch him be hurt by the very people who are supposed to protect him is something I will never get over,” Gabrielle Hansell, the administrator of Anderson’s estate and the mother of Anderson’s 5-year-old son, said at the news conference announcing the legal action on Friday.

Lawyers may ask for Justice Department review

Since Anderson was “an African American man,” the claimants in this case “believe that because of implicit bias, each of the unknown involved police officers assumed Mr. Anderson presented a serious threat to someone’s safety, and then assaulted, battered and tased him at least six times in response,” the claim says. 

“Mr. Anderson had not posed any objectively reasonable threat to anyone, but was grabbed, compressed against the hardened surface, and repeatedly tased on account of his African American race,” the claim adds.  

“We will make sure that Keenan Anderson’s name will not go away in vain,” Douglas said during the news conference.  

The legal team is also planning to request that the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division investigate the case, attorney Benjamin Crump said.

Anderson’s death is the third officer-involved death in Los Angeles this year.

Detectives from the police department’s Force Investigation Division responded to the scene where Anderson was taken into custody and are investigating the use of force, police said.