Death of Tanisha Anderson, Mentally Ill Woman, in Police Custody Ruled a Homicide

January 2, 2015 Updated: January 2, 2015

The death of Tanisha Anderson, a Cleveland-area woman who died in November, was ruled a homicide, according to reports on Friday. Anderson was physically restrained in a prone position–with a heart condition and bipolar disorder also considered factors in her death.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner said her death was a homicide. She died Nov. 12 at a hospital after she was taken into police custody in handcuffs before losing consciousness while having what is being described as a mental health episode.

Relatives of Anderson claim police used excessive force that led to her death. The medical examiner ruled it a “sudden death associated with physical restraint in a prone position.”

Per the Cleveland Leader, the death is classified under “Homicide, Legal Intervention.”

Her family released a statement on the ruling, saying: “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,” according to WOIO-TV.

Scott Aldridge and Bryan Meyers were placed on administrative leave over the incident as it’s being investigated.

The Cleveland Police Department also issued its own statement.

“Today, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office released information regarding the in-custody death of Tanisha Anderson which occurred on November 13, 2014. The Medical Examiner identified the cause of death as ‘Sudden death associated with physical restraint in a prone position in association with ischemic heart disease and Bipolar disorder with agitation,’ and the manner of death as ‘Homicide, Legal Intervention,'” the department said, via WOIO. 

In December, the police force was heavily criticized in a U.S. Justice Department report that found excessive use of force and civil rights violations.

Federal investigators spent 18 months looking into use of force policies in Cleveland after a series of well-publicized incidents, including the killing of two unarmed civilians in a hail of police gunfire after a high-speed chase.

The Justice Department’s finding will force the city to devise a plan to reform the police department. That plan must be approved by a federal judge and will be overseen by an independent monitor.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.