Cleveland Agree to $2.25M Settlement to Family of Mentally Ill Woman Who Died in Police Custody

1486328545196Jennifer Wright

The city of Cleveland has agreed to pay $2.25 million settlement to the family of Tanisha Anderson, who died positional asphyxiation in 2014 while in police custody. The multi-million dollar settlement is the second in months.

The settlement was announced to the public on Monday.

Anderson, 37, was an African American woman who suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Anderson’s family called 911 on November 14, 2014, to report they needed assistance in bringing her back into the house after she wandered outside only wearing a nightgown. Officers Scott Aldridge and Bryan Myers responded to the call and arrived on scene. Both the officers and the family agreed that Anderson would be transported to a hospital for evaluation, according to reports. However, she never made it to the hospital and the scene quickly escalated.

According to the family’s civil rights lawsuit, Anderson was placed in the back of a patrol car. There she became nervous being confined to a small space and exited the car. A struggle between her and the police ensued, with them eventually wrestling her to the ground. They handcuffed her, lying her on her stomach with one of the officer’s knees in her back. Sometime during the struggle, Anderson stopped breathing. The officers irresponsibly waited 14 minutes before calling emergency medical services.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death due to positional asphyxiation in January 2015. The office states heart disease and bipolar disorder also contributed to her death.

An investigation into Anderson’s death is being reviewed by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, but the probe has yet to yield any results. Aldridge and Myers remain employed by the Cleveland Police Department but have been limited to restricted duties.

Both officers should go to prison, according to Cassandra Johnson, Anderson’s mother.

“The police are supposed to serve and protect,” Johnson said during a news conference outside of City Hall. “That’s not going on these days. I tell you who they’re serving and protecting—themselves. It’s not the public.”

The family also asked for Anderson’s case to be used during officer training.

The settlement comes a month after the city of Cleveland agreed to pay $2.25 million to the family of Dan Ficker, who was fatally shot by a police officer in July 2011.

In May 2015, Cleveland made an agreement with the Department of Justice following a federal review of the city’s police department which found police officers routinely using excessive force and violated the civil rights of its residents, including the mentally ill. As part of the agreement, the police department is required to train officers to properly handle mental illness.


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