Death Of Tanisha Anderson, Mentally Ill Woman In Police Custody, Ruled A Homicide

01/02/2015 02:08 pm ET | Updated Jan 08, 2015

The death of Tanisha Anderson, the Cleveland woman who died in police custody late last year, has been ruled a homicide.

According to the Northeast Ohio Media Group, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office announced its assessment on Friday, saying that the woman died “as a result of being physically restrained in a prone position by Cleveland police.

Anderson suffered from heart disease and mental illness. The medical examiner’s office said those conditions were also factors in her death, per CBS News.

Anderson died in November following an encounter with Cleveland police. The woman’s family had reportedly called the cops for help after the 37-year-old began having a mental health episode. When the police arrived, the family is said to have agreed to let them take Anderson to a hospital to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Police have said that Anderson began to struggle with officers who were attempting to escort her to a police car, before she suddenly and inexplicably became limp. The woman’s family, however, told Northeast Ohio Media Group that an officer performed a “takedown move” on Anderson, roughly wrestling with the woman before putting his knee on her back as she lay prone on the ground.

According to Friday’s medical examiner’s office report, Anderson suffered a “sudden death associated with physical restraint,” per WKYC-TV.

In the months since her death, Anderson has become a symbol in the ongoing conversation about police brutality in America, sparked last year by the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and others.

On Friday, Anderson’s family released a statement “demand[ing] justice for Tanisha, a thorough criminal investigation and an independent prosecutor that results in accountability by the police officers and the Cleveland Police Department,” per WOIO.

Just last month, the Justice Department released a report accusing the Cleveland police of using excessive or unnecessary force at a “significant rate,” per CNN. The report -- the result of a two-year investigation -- added that officers were also found to have used excessive force on those "who are mentally ill or in crisis.”

According to The Associated Press, the Cleveland Police Department has said in a statement that it is conducting an investigation into Anderson’s death. Two officers involved have reportedly been placed on restricted duty.

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