Tanisha Anderson died as a result of being physically restrained in a prone position by the Cleveland police on Nov. 13, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s office announced on Friday. Anderson’s death was ruled a homicide.
According to The Northeast Ohio Media Group, Anderson’s official cause of death was ruled “sudden death associated with physical restraint in a prone position,” according to the medical examiner’s office.
Chris Harris, office spokesman, said the 37-year-old’s heart disease and bipolar disorder were considered contributing factors that increased her chance of sudden death.
According to reports, Anderson’s family called police twice on the day she died because she was having an episode. They allowed the Cleveland police to take Anderson to St. Vincent Charity Medical Center for an evaluation, but Anderson became afraid and began to kick at the officers as she was being escorted to the police car.
Police said Anderson began to kick at the officers as they escorted her to a police car, and went limp during the struggle. But Anderson’s brother, Joell Anderson, told Northeast Ohio Media Group that Anderson got nervous after voluntarily getting into the back of the police car.
She left the cruiser, and a police officer performed a take-down move, placed his knee on Anderson’s back as she lay face-down on the pavement and handcuffed her before she stopped moving, according to Anderson’s family.
The Cleveland Police Department released a statement saying that its Use of Deadly Force Investigation Team is looking into the factors surrounding Anderson’s death —– and their investigators have not yet determined if the officer’s use of force was justified.
Last month, the Department of Justice released a 58-page report which revealed that Cleveland Police Department officers are not properly trained to handle encounters with residents with mental illnesses. In addition to being poorly trained, the report also revealed the department does not practice proper de-escalation techniques to keep a situation from getting out of control and often resorts to cruel and excessive force against the mentally and medically ill.
Hoping her death will be a catalyst for change, Anderson’s family has publicly requested for the department to require every Cleveland police officer to receive 40 hours of special training given by the Cuyahoga County Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services.
Through a spokesman, Anderson’s family on Friday demanded “a thorough criminal investigation and an independent prosecutor that results in accountability by the police officers and the Cleveland police department.”