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City of Cleveland Suspends Officer in Tanisha Anderson Case

photo of Michael McGrath

The city of Cleveland has suspended a police officer for not calling EMS quickly enough to respond to a woman who died after a mental health crisis in 2014.

Public safety director Michael McGrath suspended Officer Scott Aldridge for 10 days without pay, and gave a written warning to Officer Bryan Myers. 

Both officers responded to 9-1-1 calls from the family of 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson. She became unresponsive as officers tried to get her into a patrol car to take her to a hospital. A family lawsuit, now settled, accuses police of throwing her to the ground.

“It was a really, just a sad incident, it really is. It was a very difficult process all the way through," says Michael McGrath, Cleveland's safety director.

A grand jury declined to bring charges against the officers. Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president Jeff Follmer defended the officers, pointing to an attorney general’s investigation.

“Unfortunately, in the attorney general’s report, she had mental illness, they found she had heart problems, I don’t know where this twists and goes back to the police officer to be blamed for these things," Follmer says. 

He says the union plans to file grievances.

Other disciplinary action
In addition to the officer who was suspended, the city also demoted two police supervisors and suspended another after dozens of sex crimes cases went uninvestigated.

Uninvestigated sex crimes

McGrath demoted Sergeant Tom Ross to patrol officer, accusing him of failing to investigate 60 sex crimes cases from 2014. Commander James McPike was demoted to captain. 

A disciplinary letter says McPike allowed Ross to take the unfinished cases with him to a new assignment outside the sex crimes unit. Sergeant Anthony McMahan received a 15-day suspension. He’s accused of not reporting what happened. 

Chief Calvin Williams says those cases have been reassigned and most have been investigated. 

“We’re auditing everything with our investigative units, all the cases. There is no quote unquote backlog. There’s always cases that are still in the process of being investigated in all of our units," Williams says. 

Police union leaders say the city should better staff the investigative units. The head of the local Fraternal Order of Police says at least one, if not two, of the supervisors plan to file grievances. He says all three had good intentions, and planned to complete the cases.