#SayHerName: Tanisha Anderson

Investigation into death of Tanisha Anderson completed

Tanisha Anderson’s case is one of many that the #SayHerName hashtag aimed to lift up. Her death in November 2014 at the hands of Cleveland Police officers elicited no anger or demonstrations at the time. Since the story of her death became known she has joined the list of other unarmed black women, similar to unarmed black men, who have died at the hands of police and whose killers have not been held accountable for their actions. And now, it appears that even more movement in the case is underway.

Anderson was diagnosed as schizophrenic and bipolar. Her family called 911 in the hopes of getting assistance for her; she had attempted to leave her home late in the night wearing nothing but a nightgown on two occasions. Police say they spoke with Anderson and convinced her to be escorted to a local hospital. As she was being taken to the police squad car, Tanisha’s family says she changed her mind. Police say she began to “actively resist” them. That “resistance” cost Tanisha her life. Her death was ruled a homicide and an investigation into the case is now concluded.

The 15-month long investigation is now in the hands of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine: In a statement last Tuesday, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty requested DeWine take over the case following a Cuyahoga County sheriff’s investigation, which McGinty said revealed “facts that created a conflict of interest” for his office. McGinty—who led the controversial investigation into the police killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and is running for reelection next month—did not specify what that conflict of interest was.

The recently completed sheriff’s investigation, which has not been disclosed publicly, raises questions about the Cleveland Police Department’s official account presented in November 2014. According to a law enforcement official familiar with the sheriff’s investigation who spoke to Mother Jones, the investigation reveals significant details that the Cleveland PD’s account did not include.

At the time of Anderson’s death, Cleveland police released a statement which, truth be told, they really ought to be ashamed of:

“As the officers escorted the female to the police vehicle she began actively resisting the officers.  Once handcuffed, the woman continued to resist officers attempts to place her in the police car. The woman began to kick at officers.  A short time later the woman stopped struggling and appeared to go limp. Officers found a faint pulse on the victim and immediately called EMS and a supervisor to respond to the scene at 11:34. EMS and and Fire responded and treated the woman before conveying her to the Cleveland Clinic emergency room where she was pronounced dead at 12:30 am.”

Cleveland police ought to be ashamed of themselves because they left out the most crucial part of their statement: that it was the Cleveland cops that helped Tanisha go limp in the first place by slamming her into the pavement:

A 37-year-old schizophrenic woman died after police slammed her to the pavement outside her family’s home, her brother said.

Tanisha Anderson was pronounced dead at Cleveland Clinic early Thursday after an altercation with officers nearly two hours earlier on the 1300 block of Ansel Road.

“They killed my sister,” her 40-year-old brother Joell Anderson said with welling eyes in his living roomThursday night. “I watched it.”

The ACLU of Ohio called the officers’ actions a “takedown move.” In addition to being less than honest and forthright about how Anderson ended up on the pavement, Cleveland police also stated that Anderson laid on the sidewalk for about “5 to 10” minutes before paramedics arrived. The recently completed investigation revealed that the actual time was more like 20 minutes. Anderson’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit that alleges:

when family members asked the officers to check on her condition, the officers “falsely claimed she was sleeping” and delayed calling for medical assistance. “During the lengthy time that Tanisha lay on the ground,” the family said, [Scott] Aldridge and [Bryan] Myers “failed to provide any medical attention to Tanisha.”

And yeah, just in case you were wondering, one of the cops involved in Anderson’s death—Scott Aldridge—is no stranger to disciplinary action, and yes, he is also one of the officers involved in that car chase that ended so horrifically.

Go Cleveland!