Family of Cleveland woman who died in police custody testifies in front of Cuyahoga County Grand Jury

Tanisha Anderson's family heads to Justice Center elevators after Grand Jury testimony
Tanisha Anderson's family heads to Justice Center elevators after Grand Jury testimony

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The mother of a woman who died while in Cleveland police custody testified in front of a grand jury Thursday, according to her attorney.

Cassandra Johnson, the mother of Tanisha Anderson, testified in front of the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury Thursday afternoon as a part of a criminal investigation into the actions of two Cleveland police officers.

"We're pretty much glad it's gotten to this point because it was all about, for us, how Tanisha died," said Tanisha's uncle Michael Anderson.  Michael, and several other family members, spoke to Cleveland 19 late Thursday afternoon after leaving the Grand Jury room.  "It hurts, it hurts, but at least we're here and we hope that the Grand Jury at least takes into consideration, anything else how she died she died saying the Lord's prayer."

The Ohio Attorney General's office is in charge of the investigation into officers Scott Aldridge and Bryan Myers.

Police were called to Anderson's house on November 12, 2014, because the family said Tanisha was having a mental health episode. Aldridge and Myers responded. Anderson agreed to go to a hospital before struggling with police after getting into a cruiser.

According to a statement in court documents from Anderson's brother, Aldridge "slammed my sister to the ground and while she was lying face down, pulled her arms back and cuffed her."

"We think that some criminal charges should be brought up against them, it's all about the dignity," said Michael. "We think as law enforcement they were here to protect and serve us, they had some responsibility to show some dignity and respect because she died buck naked on the ground."

The officers, in court documents, and statements from the officers' union have said they did nothing wrong during their encounter with Anderson.

An initial autopsy, performed by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's office, determined that the manner of Anderson's death was homicide, and she died because she stopped breathing after being placed on the ground on her stomach, and that heart problems and mental illness contributed to her death.

But, earlier this year a judge ruled a medical examiner's report shouldn't be considered in Anderson's death investigation, so the Attorney General's office ordered a second autopsy. The attorney general's office told Cleveland 19 Thursday the results of that second autopsy are not yet available.

The city has denied excessive force was used.

In February, Cleveland reached a $2.25 million settlement with the Anderson family.

Since Grand Jury proceedings are secret, Cleveland 19 doesn't know when the Grand Jury will reach its decision or what potential criminal charges they are being asked to consider.

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