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Death Is No Shock to Brother

Sibling of a man killed by Huntington Beach police says drug use helped cause the tragedy.

June 03, 2003|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

David Anderson said his brother spent his life battling drugs and chasing an elusive career dream.

That's why, he said, he was not surprised when Kenneth Anderson was shot and killed by police after a weekend pursuit.

"He's had a history of drug use," said David Anderson, 39, of Mission Viejo. "We miss him already, but there was nothing we could've done. We tried everything possible. The only thing that could help him was himself."

Kenneth Anderson, 38, of Huntington Beach, led police on a chase that started about 5:30 p.m. Sunday when they confronted him in the parking lot at Huntington Beach High School, authorities said. A clerk had called police after Anderson allegedly stole a lighter and other items from a convenience store.

Five patrol cars chased Anderson to the parking lot, where officers forced his car into a fence, said Huntington Beach police Sgt. Gary Meza. When officers got out to arrest Anderson, he revved his engine and started toward them, prompting one officer to shoot through the windshield, Meza said.

"The officers were in danger of being struck by the suspect vehicle," he said.

Anderson was pronounced dead at the scene. The unidentified officer was not injured and has been placed on administrative leave, a standard procedure. The Orange County Sheriff's Department is investigating the shooting, which is also routine.

David Anderson said his brother began using cocaine when he was 16, shortly after he was injured in a motorcycle accident. He was struck by a motorist who ran a red light, causing him near fatal injuries, his brother said. Insurance companies settled with him when he was 19. But his share of $400,000 was mostly used on drugs by the time he was 22, his brother said.

He lived off the settlement and disability checks and spent much of his time surfing. He did, however, complete drug programs in the 1980s and had stayed sober for 14 years. He also spearheaded a tri-nation tour to raise money for drug-abused children and took classes toward earning his teaching degree.

But in September 2001, Kenneth Anderson was fired after a week of student teaching at Fountain Valley High School. A background check uncovered his criminal record, his brother said. "He was depressed over it," David Anderson said. "He'd spent 10 years in college to get there and he had doors closed on him. He really wanted to work with high school students and be an example of the sins of drug use."

He began using nitrous oxide, his brother said. In June 2002, he was on the gas while trying to cash a check. When a clerk asked for his identification, he didn't have it and began an argument. The clerk called police, and Kenneth led them on a chase. He was convicted and served 11 months in Orange County Jail. He was released three weeks ago and was living with a pastor he had met while incarcerated.

David Anderson said he read about the shooting in the newspaper Monday; the article did not identify his brother by name.

"Oh, my God, I hope it's not Kenneth," he said he recalled thinking. "The story sounded so familiar to what he has done before. Nothing was different except this time, he was shot."

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