Grand Jury Won't Indict Police In Death Of Tanisha Anderson
A grand jury has declined to bring charges against two Cleveland police officers in the case of a woman who died in their custody during a mental health crisis.
The Ohio attorney general's office released a memorandum today reporting the grand jury's decision and summarizing the investigation.
Tanisha Anderson, 37, died in November 2014 after officers Scott Aldridge and Bryan Myers, responding to her family’s 9-1-1 call, tried to place her in a patrol car to take her to a hospital.
The Cuyahoga County medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, writing that the cause was "sudden death associated with physical restraint in the prone position in association with ischemic heart disease and bipolar disorder with agitation."
The Montgomery County coroner, asked by the attorney general's office to review autopsy files, told investigators that the "sudden collapse is more consistent with a cardiac event."
In a lawsuit, the family says one officer threw Anderson to the ground and knelt on her back to handcuff her. The attorney general's office memo says "an interaction between the officers and Ms. Anderson occurred."
Numerous agencies have handled the case over more than three years.
"Never before has the Special Prosecutions Section been presented with such a complicated legal mess," special prosecutions section chief Matthew J. Donahue wrote in the memo.
Cuyahoga County prosecutors asked the sheriff’s office to investigate in 2015.
Citing a conflict of interest, the county prosecutor’s office in 2016 asked the attorney general to act as special prosecutor.
A retired judge was named “special master” and tasked with reviewing the case file for so-called “Garrity” material—information that might violate officers’ Constitutional rights against self-incrimination.
That judge stepped aside, saying a family member was friends with someone involved in the case. A second judge was appointed to take over the special master role.
In September of last year, the special master ruled that the medical examiner’s verdict and cause of death should be excluded from the case file. The attorney general’s office then requested a second autopsy report.