Three men died during arrest encounters with officers of the Los Angeles Police Department over a 25-hour period at the start of the new year, leading to a renewed effort by City Council members to institute wide-ranging police reforms in L.A.
Councilmen Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Bob Blumenfield filed a motion on Tuesday seeking $1 million toward creating an Office of Unarmed Response. Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez also called for an expansion of the LAPD’s Mental Evaluation Unit and Domestic Abuse Response Team at Tuesday’s meeting.
The family of 31-year-old English teacher and father Keenan Anderson was present at the meeting. Anderson, the cousin of Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, died on January 3 after going into cardiac arrest less than five hours after an LAPD officer is alleged to have repeatedly used a taser on him. Bodycam videos show Anderson begging for his life during the encounter, saying, “They’re trying to George Floyd me.”
At the meeting, Anderson’s younger sister, Dominique Anderson, described the trauma the family is now left with, saying, “If you continue to blame the victim and not hold officers accountable, why would they ever stop killing us?”
Anderson’s death followed the fatal shooting of Takar Smith, 45, on January 2, which LAPD Chief Michel Moore called concerning given the fact that police dispatchers, officers, and on-scene supervisors all neglected to contact mental evaluation units for assistance. Oscar Sanchez, 35, was killed on Jan. 3, when three LAPD officers opened fire on him.
“I will not be convinced by anybody that any of those people deserved to have their life taken, least of Keenan Anderson,” Harris-Dawson said Tuesday. “His students should be able to learn from him. His family should be able to love him. His community should still have him at this moment.”
In a statement Mayor Karen Bass offered, “The need for urgent change is clear. We must reduce the use of force overall, and I have absolutely no tolerance for excessive force.”
Blumenfield and Harris-Dawson have asked for a report within 15 days on the status of creating the proposed Office of Unarmed Response, which would ensure around-the-clock coordination and deployment of unarmed, trained specialists to non-violent calls for service, as well as collaboration with 911 dispatchers.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, police have killed 991 people in L.A. County since 2000. Nearly 80 percent of those killed were Black or Latino.
City News Service contributed to this report.