LA police chief concerned by 3 use-of-force deaths last week

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore on Wednesday promised thorough investigations into a trio of use-of-force incidents involving officers that left three suspects dead in the first three days of the new year, including a cousin of a Black Lives Matter co-founder.

The LAPD on Wednesday released video footage from all three encounters. The agency typically releases such footage, or “critical incident reports,” 45 days after use-of-force incidents.

At a downtown news conference Wednesday, Moore said he had concerns about all three of the use-of-force encounters and he vowed that full internal investigations would be conducted. Two of the encounters were fatal shootings by officers. The third involved a suspect who died at a hospital after being Tasered six times during a scuffle with officers in Venice following a traffic collision.

The suspect who was Tasered was 31-year-old Keenan Anderson, the cousin of Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrice Cullors and the father of a 6-year-old child. Members of Black Lives Matter held a protest outside LAPD headquarters Wednesday while Moore was holding his news conference inside.

“When the life of Keenan Anderson was stolen, it’s the life of someone who loved his child and loved his aunties and loved his cousins and loved his family, but was also loved by a classroom full of 10th grade Black children who no longer have their teacher,” Los Angeles BLM activist Melina Abdullah said.

Moore said the probe into Anderson’s death was continuing, but he noted that Anderson was Tasered six times during the struggle with officers, a number that raised concerns.

“In my preliminary review of this incident, it’s unclear what the role of that Taser was,” Moore said. “To be clear, it’s dependent on the totality of our investigative resources, but also on medical records from the hospital as well as a coroner’s report and their formal and forensic level examination.

“As this investigation continues, however, I will pay close attention to the use of the Taser.”

Anderson died Jan. 3. Police initially said officers responded that afternoon to a traffic collision at Venice and Lincoln boulevards, and the man who caused the crash — alleged to be Anderson — was found running in the street and exhibiting erratic behavior. At one point, Anderson ran from the scene and officers gave chase on foot, eventually catching up to him in the middle of Venice Boulevard, police said.

Officers used a variety of efforts to detain him, including the Taser and other restraints, eventually handcuffing him and hobbling him at the ankles, police said. Paramedics eventually were called to the scene, and Anderson was taken to a hospital, where he went into cardiac arrest and died.

On her Instagram page following his death, Cullors wrote that Anderson was a high school English teacher.

“Keenan deserves to be alive right now, his child deserves to be raised by his father. Keenan, we will fight for you and for all our loved ones impacted by state violence,” she wrote.

She noted that Anderson was one of three people killed by LAPD officers in the first days of the new year.

The LAPD also released video footage Wednesday from the fatal police shootings of Oscar Leon Sanchez on Jan. 3, and of Takar Smith on Jan. 2.

Sanchez allegedly was armed with a sharp metal object when he was shot and killed by police in South Los Angeles, CBS Los Angeles reported.

Smith was armed with a knife when he was fatally shot by police in the Westlake area, KTLA reported.

Moore said he was concerned that in all three cases, the suspects were all in some type of mental distress, but the department’s mental-health intervention team was not called in.

“Our mental evaluation unit which we’ve invested in substantially to be a call center 24 hours a day, expectation is this type of pattern of information would result in a consult,” Moore said.

Mayor Karen Bass released a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying her “heart goes out to the families and loved ones who are mourning the loss of Takar Smith, Keenan Anderson and Oscar Sanchez.”

“Full investigations are underway, and I pledge that the city’s investigations into these deaths will be transparent and will reflect the values of Los Angeles,” Bass said. “I will ensure that the city’s investigations will drive only toward truth and accountability. Furthermore, the officers involved must be placed on immediate leave.

“No matter what these investigations determine, however, the need for urgent change is clear. We must reduce the use of force overall, and I have absolutely no tolerance for excessive force. We must also lead our city forward — finally — on the mental health crisis that has been allowed to grow, fester and cause so much harm to individual Angelenos, their families and our communities.”

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