The death of Tanisha Anderson, who died during an altercation with Cleveland police outside her home in November, has been ruled a homicide by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner.
The medical examiner's office has not yet released its full report, but shared its cause of death finding with BuzzFeed News, stating that Anderson's sudden death was "associated with physical restraint in a prone position in association with ischemic heart disease and Bipolar disorder with agitation."
On November 13, 2014, police were called to Anderson's Cleveland residence by her family seeking help in getting her to go to the hospital. According to her family, Anderson was mentally ill and had been prescribed medication for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
The family and the police both said that after what the cops described as a "lengthy discussion" Anderson agreed to be escorted to Saint Vincent Charity Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
According to a press release by Cleveland Police, when the officers put Anderson into the police car, she became agitated and an altercation between her and the cops ensued:
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.
The family's version of what happened after Anderson and the cops began to struggle is different from the police account.
Joell Anderson, the victim's brother who told Cleveland.com that he witnessed the incident, said that one of the officers repeatedly pushed down on Anderson's head while she resisted in the backseat of the police car.
The officer then allegedly used a takedown move and pushed Anderson's head on to the pavement, knocking Anderson unconscious. The officers made no effort to resuscitate her before EMS arrived, according to Joell Anderson, who said about 20 minutes passed before the ambulance arrived.
According to police, Anderson was treated at the scene by EMS before being transported to Cleveland Clinic emergency room where she was pronounced dead at 12:30 a.m. local time.
"They killed my sister," Joell Anderson told Cleveland.com. "I watched it."
The cause of death is listed in the medical examiner's report as: "Homicide (Legal Intervention)."
The identities of the officers involved have not yet been made public.
Cleveland Police said Friday in a statement on the investigation, "the Cleveland Division of Police Use of Deadly Force Investigation Team continues to investigate this case and no new information regarding the investigation is available at this time. Both of the officers involved in the incident remain assigned to the Division of Police in a restricted duty capacity."
"Upon completion of the Use of Deadly Force Investigation Team's investigation, the case will be presented to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office for review."
Following the release of the cause of death, Anderson's family put out a statement calling for a criminal investigation:
"Our beloved Tanisha's death has been ruled a homicide. 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. "
Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Mike Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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