Family of Tanisha Anderson speaks after filing wrongful death suit

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CLEVELAND- The family of Tanisha Anderson, who died after an incident with Cleveland police, called her death preventable during a news conference Thursday.

On Nov. 12, family members called officers to a home on Ansel Road to deal with a disturbance. Police were taking Tanisha Anderson, 37, to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation when she started to resist, the police report said. Her body went limp and she was taken to the Cleveland Clinic, where she was pronounced dead.

The family, along with attorneys David Malik and Alphonse Gerhardstein,spoke to the media at the Second Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.

“I want to say to everyone in this room that has power to change things, let’s do that,” said Joel Anderson, Tanisha’s brother. “We’re not here to bash the police department… We’re here to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

“I would go to the ends of the earth for Tanisha Anderson, my daughter,” Anderson’s mother said. “She would still be here if they would have handled it another way.” She said her daughter did not have a weapon and did not kick officers.

“The truth stays the same… Tanisha Anderson will get justice. She will get justice, not just for her, but for a whole lot of people.”

On Wednesday, the family filed a wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit against the city of Cleveland and the two officers involved. The suit said Anderson, who suffered from bipolar disorder, became anxious when put in the cop car and that officers slammed her to the sidewalk.

“We have an unarmed woman who didn’t commit a crime,” Gerhardstein said. “Police officers are trained to calmly, without escalating, address the situation.” He also said the Cleveland Division of Police policy on dealing with the mentally ill is inadequate and out of date.

“Suddenly, they’re treating her like a criminal,” Gerhardstein. The attorney accused officers of lying to the family and saying that Anderson was just sleeping, when she was clearly in distress.

Gerhardstein, who is based in Cincinnati, said they want accountability, reform and justice, including cruiser dash cameras and body cameras.

Representatives of the National Alliance on Mental illness of Greater Cleveland spoke at the conference to state the importance of crisis intervention training. The attorneys said they have asked the city for documentation that the officers had proper training, but that has not been provided.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Anderson’s death a homicide.

More stories on Tanisha Anderson’s death here.

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