Tanisha Anderson's Death Ruled A Homicide -- Pattern Of Police Brutality?

Police killed Tanisha Anderson, a mentally ill African-american woman, while she was in custody on November 13. The medical examiner has ruled the death a homicide.

The medical examiner's office said Anderson's death was "sudden death associated with physical restraint in a prone position." Her bipolar disorder and past heart disease were contributing factors, according to the report.

Tanisha's family initially called the police for help. Anderson was having a mental health episode and threatening to disturb the peace. The family agreed to let the police take the 37-year-old woman to a hospital for a psychological examination. At that point, the two stories start to diverge, one from police, the other from the family.

According to the Huffington Post, police stated that she was struggling with the officers attempting to escort her to the police car, then she suddenly and inexplicably went limp.

Family members say that one of the officers did a "take down" move as Anderson struggled and finally put his knee on the woman's back while handcuffing her. The medical examiner's analysis seems to confirm the family's side of the story.

Now Anderson's family is speaking out, angry with the officers' conduct.

"What we don't understand is, why she was treated like a criminal?" Tanisha's uncle Mike Anderson said in a news conference, according to WKYC.

Tanisha's mother made the following comment.

"I'm angry when I think about how my daughter was treated."
The family is hoping for change in the Cleveland police system, but as the Justice Department revealed in a recent report, police brutality is epidemic in the Cleveland area.

According to CNN, Justice Department investigators found the use of excessive force by Cleveland area police is at a "significant rate" and is putting the entire community at risk. Some examples highlighted in the report include using a taser on a man in an ambulance strapped to a gurney; shooting unarmed civilians 20 times after a high-speed pursuit; and the most conspicuous, the shooting death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African American boy who was carrying a toy pistol.

Tanisha Anderson's death might be the latest in a long rap-sheet for the Cleveland police department.

As CNN reports, the vehicle bay at one of the stations has the sign "forward operating base," a term typically used in tactical operations in a war zone. The Justice Department report highlights the sign as indicative of a mind-set problem within the local police.

"This characterization reinforces the view held by some -- both inside and outside the Division -- that CDP is an occupying force instead of a true partner and resource in the community it serves."
The report goes on to say the officers' training instills a "us-against-them" mentality that undermines the fundamental purposes of the police.

Given the Justice Department's bleak look at local police department's record, Tanisha Anderson's family may have to wait a long time for the changes in officer conduct they're wishing for.

[Image via CBS News]