Friday, January 02, 2015
Tanisha Anderson death ruled homicide
Tanisha Anderson’s death on Nov. 13 has been ruled a homicide, in an announcement released this morning by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s office.
Specifically, she died as a result of being physically restrained by Cleveland Police officers while she was in a prone position. The coroner ruled that associated factors were Anderson’s heart condition and “Bipolar disorder with agitation.”
Family members had called authorities seeking assistance as Anderson was reportedly “disturbing the peace” on the day she died. The family apparently consented for police to take her to St. Vincent Charity Medical Center for a mental health evaluation.
Family members and police tell conflicting versions about what happened next, but Anderson got out of the police cruiser she was held face-down on the pavement, handcuffed, and further restrained by police until she stopped moving.
Anderson’s death has been a focal point of community agitation in the wake of a 58-page US Justice Department report that found many problems with the Cleveland Police Department, including the fact that many officers are ill-prepared to deal with city residents with mental illnesses, often resulting in the use of cruel and excessive force against the mentally and medically ill.
No ruling has been made by prosecutors in this matter, and the involved officers are on restricted duty.
Earlier this week, the Norman S. Minor Bar Association announced a special meeting to address community concerns over police misconduct, as detailed in the Department of Justice report, and punctuated most vividly by the deaths of Anderson, twelve year old Tamir Rice ten days later, and Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams in November 2012.
The meeting is an open forum to address the DOJ’s conclusion that “there is reasonable cause to believe that Cleveland police officers engage in a pattern or practice of unreasonable and in some cases unnecessary force in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.”
The Justice Department has asked for community input before it begins negotiations with the City of Cleveland to enter an enforceable court decree.
NSMBA is the local professional association of black lawyers. The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 6 at 5:30 PM in Courtoom 15-A of the Justice Center.