Family of Mentally Ill Woman Killed by Cleveland Police File Wrongful Death Suit

Two months after Cleveland police killed Tanisha Anderson, a mentally ill mother of one, the victim’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the local police department, according to The lawsuit comes on the heels of a recently released medical examiner’s report ruling Anderson’s death a homicide.

On November 12, Anderson’s relatives called authorities after they were unable to control the 37-year-old woman, who suffered from schizophrenia. Her uncle, Michael Anderson, requested an ambulance, but police officers came instead. They executed what family members have called “a violent takedown move,” in which an officer “grabbed Tanisha, slammed her to the sidewalk, pushed her face into the pavement, placed his knee onto her back, placed his weight on her and placed Tanisha in handcuffs,” according to the lawsuit.  After her body went limp, an ambulance was called, but she died at the hospital.

The lawsuit notes that the police used excessive force and the department’s guidelines for dealing with those who suffer from mental illness don’t include crucial instructions: “The policy fails to direct officers to reduce tension, develop a plan, keep voices low, alter the use of force, or slow the pace of the encounter as techniques to avoid escalating the problems faced by mentally ill citizens.” 

The family has requested an undisclosed sum in damages.