A new expert report has found the Cleveland police responsible for the death of 37-year old Tanisha Anderson.
Tanisha Anderson’s Death
According to the suit filed by Anderson’s estate, on November 12, 2014, Anderson’s family called 911, seeking mental help assistance for Anderson. Anderson suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and had recently been released from a mental health facility. When the police arrived, they placed Anderson in a zone car and she became agitated. The responding officers pushed Anderson to the ground and placed pressure on her back while handcuffing her. Anderson lost consciousness and stopped breathing. She eventually died.
The Cuyahoga County Coroner determined the Anderson’s cause of death to be “Sudden death associated with physical restraint in a prone position in association with ischemic heart disease and Bipolar disorder with agitation.”
The estate of Tanisha Anderson filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the City of Cleveland and Officers Scott Aldridge and Bryan Myers. Anderson’s mother, Cassandra Johnson, says that she is “hopeful this will finally bring justice for Tanisha” and that this case “has been passed off from one agency to another for nearly two years.” The suit alleges excessive force and denial of medical care, wrongful death, assault and battery, and a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Expert Report from Former Deputy Chief of Police of Los Angeles Police Department
Anderson’s family retained Lou Reiter as an expert witness. Reiter is the former Deputy Chief of Police of the Los Angeles Police Department and served as a police officer for over twenty years. After his retirement, Reiter has been a police consultant in police training and management, including the investigation of critical incidents, Internal Affairs, liability management, and policy and procedure development. Reiter is the author of the manual Law Enforcement Administrative Investigations and has been retained as an expert witness in over 1100 police-related cases.
Reiter reviewed the court records, medical records, depositions and witness interviews, and police files in Anderson’s case. Reiter opined that “The City of Cleveland, Cleveland Division of Police, in my opinion based upon my specialized knowledge, skills and training and my review of the documentation in this litigation, exhibited deliberate indifference in its training, supervision and policy development by not addressing the known, common field risks of positional asphyxiation. Officers Aldridge and Myers failed to follow basic precautions when restraining Tanisha Anderson in the prone position and caused her injuries due to positional asphyxia. Their actions were consistent with the City’s critical lack of policy, training and supervision regarding the dangers of positional asphyxiation.”
Reiter further found that the officers used “unreasonable and excessive” force in their encounter with Anderson and that they “failed to use reasonable and generally accepted police practices in failing to provide medical care for Ms. Anderson.” Reiter also found that “there was absolutely no excuse to not place Ms. Anderson in a position of less restraint, remove her handcuffs or begin any form of immediate first aid.”
The lawsuit is pending in United States District Court in the Northern District of Ohio as Case No. 1:15-cv-0027 before Judge Donald C. Nugent.