WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- A former police officer who now researches excessive use-of-force incidents said tasers should be banned after the death of Keenan Anderson early this month.
- Bodycam footage reveals officers repeatedly tased Anderson who later went into a fatal cardiac arrest.
- Medical experts say police use of taser guns for years, following several research, reveals the weapon is now less-than-lethal, rather than non-lethal.
Keenan Anderson, a 31-year-old teacher, who was tased 7 times by a Los Angeles Police Department officer, went into cardiac arrest and died at the hospital hours later.
Anderson, a cousin of Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Patrisse Cullors, was flagged down by the LAPD on January 3 after a traffic incident in Venice, California and ended up restrained on the ground.
The LAPD released body camera footage on January 12 showing Anderson yelling in pain and pleading for help while an officer tased his back.
“The police are supposed to be here to protect and serve the people, and yet they abuse their authority and have a lack of respect for human life,” Dominique Anderson, the younger sister of Anderson, said in a news conference.
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner has not yet announced the cause of death but the incident has sparked new conversations about the deadly use of stun guns by police. According to a Reuters report, excessive use of tasers has resulted in the deaths of more than one thousand people between 2000 and 2018.
The deaths disproportionately affect Black people, according to the Reuters report. Despite only making up 14% of the US population, Black people accounted for 32% of the deaths, while white people made up 29% of deaths, despite making up 60% of the country’s population.
Kalfani Turè, a former police officer, believes “the Taser directly caused the death of Anderson.”
Turè, now an assistant professor at Mount Saint Mary’s University who researches use-of-force incidents, said that many police departments don’t have a set of rules limiting how taser guns are used. Turè is against the current use of Tasers because of the police’s false notion that the weapon is non-lethal. He added that tasers could potentially set people on fire.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore told reporters in a news conference after the release of the body camera footage, that the LAPD had “no pre-set limit on the number of times a Taser can be used in a particular situation.” But he added that police should “generally avoid repeated or simultaneous activations to avoid potential injury.”
In addition, Turè said that the officer’s use of the Taser near Anderson’s chest is dangerous as stun guns can cause the heart to stop. Turè also pointed out that the use of drugs could have contributed to Anderson’s agitated state and an increased heart rate, considering the toxicology report stating Anderson tested positive for cocaine and marijuana.