Los Angeles police had repeatedly Tasered the cousin of a Black Lives Matter co-founder in the hours before his death.
Lawyers for the five-year-old son of a man who died in the United States after Los Angeles police repeatedly shocked him with a stun gun have filed a $50m claim for damages against the city.
The claim is required before Keenan Anderson’s son can sue the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for civil rights violations after officers Tasered his father six times in less than a minute to subdue him on January 3.
“He was a flower just beginning to bloom, but the LAPD unfortunately was a hammer,” the family’s lawyer, Carl Douglas, said at a news conference announcing the case. “They treated that flower like it was a nail.”
The claim was filed on Friday on behalf of Anderson’s son, Syncere Kai Anderson, who stood with his mother, Gabrielle Hansell, alongside their lawyers.
Anderson – a 31-year-old high school English teacher in Washington, DC, and cousin of Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement – was a suspect in a hit-and-run traffic collision in Venice, California, on the US west coast. Police said he ran from officers and resisted arrest.
Anderson screamed for help after he was pinned to the street by officers, according to a video released by the LAPD.
“They’re trying to kill me,” Anderson yelled.
Footage showed an officer pressing his forearm onto Anderson’s chest and an elbow into his neck.
“They’re trying to George Floyd me,” Anderson said in reference to the Black man killed by officers in Minnesota.
Police Chief Michel Moore said Anderson initially complied with officers as they investigated whether he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But he was subdued after he ran into the middle of the street and resisted arrest.
An LAPD toxicology test found cocaine and cannabis in Anderson’s body, although those results are separate from the coroner’s independent report, the chief said.
The officers involved have not been named yet but their union issued a statement saying the family and its lawyers were “trying to shamelessly profit” from a “tragic incident”.
After he was subdued, Anderson went into cardiac arrest and died at a hospital about four hours later.