The death of Tanisha Anderson, a black woman who died in Cleveland police custody in November, has been ruled a homicide, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's office announced Friday. The report said that Anderson’s heart condition and bipolar disorder were also factors.
Anderson died Nov. 12 at a local hospital after being handcuffed, taken into police custody and then losing consciousness while having a mental-health episode. Police said Anderson died while she was being restrained. Relatives say the police used a takedown maneuver to throw the 37-year-old woman, who they say is schizophrenic, to the ground.
Anderson’s family released a statement in response to the coroner’s findings through their attorney, David Malik.
“Our beloved Tanisha’s death has been ruled a homicide,” said the statement. “The family demands justice for Tanisha, a thorough criminal investigation and an independent prosecutor that results in accountability by the police officers and the Cleveland Police Department.”
Cleveland police also issued a statement saying its use of force investigation team is investigating the circumstances of Anderson’s death. The two officers involved are on restricted duty, the department said. Anderson's cause of death was ruled "sudden death associated with physical restraint in a prone position," the medical examiner's office said, while also citing coronary artery disease and her bipolar disorder.
The incident involving Anderson happened 10 days before police shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was holding a toy gun that officers said they believed was real, and about a month before the U.S. Department of Justice announced the results of an investigation into Cleveland’s police department for using unnecessary and unreasonable force at a "significant rate.”
Cleveland officials said Thursday that they may begin to turn over investigations of use-of-force incidents to an outside organization. A spokesman for Cleveland safety director and former police chief Michael McGrath told the Northeast Ohio Media Group that the city has been in talks with officials in the surrounding area about handling use-of-force investigations involving the police department.
“Not only this investigation, but we would like a different, outside agency to handle all deadly use-of-force cases,” said Dan Ball, a spokesperson for Cleveland safety director and former police chief Michael McGrath. “But nothing's set in stone.”