From [HERE] An arbitrator reduced the suspension of one of two Cleveland police officers involved in the death of Tanisha Anderson, a 37-year-old woman with mental illnesses who died in custody.
Arbitrator Nels Nelson on Tuesday ordered officer Scott Aldridge’s 10-day suspension cut to three days. He will receive back pay for the other seven days.
Nelson ruled the suspension should be reduced down because the city at the time had no written policy or training documents that instructed officers when to call for an ambulance, that the city failed to introduce any expert testimony during arbitration and that the 10-day suspension was not in line with punishment in similar cases. Nelson also noted Aldridge had no prior disciplinary history in his file.
Nelson also ruled the three-day suspension was fair because Aldridge knew Anderson needed medical care and should have known to call an ambulance, especially once Anderson lost consciousness while handcuffed.
The city paid Anderson’s family a $2.25 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Anderson suffered from bipolar disorder on Nov. 14, 2014, when police were called to a family member’s home twice in a 45-minute span.
At approximately 9:20 p.m., two Cleveland police officers arrived at Tanisha’s mother’s home at 1374 Ansel Road. The officers spoke with Tanisha and her family calmly and it was anticipated at the end of that discussion that Tanisha would get something to eat and then go to bed. The officers left the house. The officers provided a CAD number to be referenced in the event any additional assistance was needed.
After a while Tanisha again appeared confused and tried to leave the house while not properly dressed. At approximately 10:46 p.m., the family called 911 again to ask the officers to come back. The CAD number was offered but the dispatcher said that was not necessary.
According to the suit, ‘at approximately 10:51 p.m., 2 different officers, Aldridge and Myers [both white] responded to the family home. Tanisha’s family attempted to give information to the officers but they hardly addressed the family at all. They were rude and disrespectful to the family and to Tanisha.
Aldridge and Myers escorted Tanisha to the back seat of their zone car to transport her to the hospital for a mental health evaluation. During this period the family members were instructed to stay inside the home preventing them from helping Tanisha stay calm and making them unavailable to Tanisha as she was being escorted by the armed police officers.
Inside the zone car, Tanisha became anxious about being in a confined space and began to panic. Tanisha tried to get out of the zone car. Officer Aldridge grabbed Tanisha and began yelling at her and pushing on her to force her back into the zone car.
A terrified Tanisha called out for her mother and brother and recited the Lord’s Prayer.
Officer Aldridge then grabbed Tanisha, slammed her to the sidewalk, and pushed her face into the pavement. He placed his knee onto her back, placed his weight on her and placed Tanisha in handcuffs. Cop Meyers assisted in restraining the prone, helpless woman. Moments later, Tanisha became unconscious. Soon afterwards she stopped breathing altogether.
Tanisha was lying prone on the sidewalk with her nightgown pulled up. She was naked beneath the nightgown and exposed to the public on the walkway.
Family members called for the police to check on her and the officers falsely claimed she was sleeping. Family members were ordered to stay away from her and could not assist her.
The officers eventually allowed Joell to place a coat over his sister.
The officers unreasonably delayed calling for EMS and let many precious minutes pass before initiating a call for medical assistance. At approximately, 11:34 p.m., a call was finally placed for EMS.
During the lengthy time that Tanisha lay on the ground, officers failed to provide any medical attention to Tanisha. The officers did not provide CPR or chest compressions. During this entire time Tanisha was unconscious and unresponsive and eventually not breathing at all.
During the lengthy time that Tanisha lay on the ground, Defendants also prevented Tanisha’s family members from providing her medical attention.
At approximately 11:41 p.m., the EMS squad arrived at the scene. EMS personnel found Tanisha unresponsive and not breathing, with her hands still cuffed behind her back. 34. After transporting Tanisha to the back of the ambulance, EMS personnel found that Tanisha had no pulse. EMS personnel were unable to revive her with CPR or compressions.
Tanisha was transported to the Cleveland Clinic where she was pronounced dead. The Cuyahoga County Coroner has ruled the death of Tanisha Anderson as a homicide: “ Sudden death associated with physical restraint in a prone position in association with ischemic heart disease and Bipolar disorder with agitation.
A grand jury cleared both officers of any criminal wrongdoing after three years and several different investigating agencies passing the case along until the Ohio Attorney General’s Office took over.
Aldridge and Myers were both disciplined for failing to notify Cleveland EMS in a timely manner.
“We thought the arbitration ruling was fair,” Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Jeff Follmer said. He is also white. “The discipline the city imposed on Aldridge was based off politics and not the facts of this case. The police can not always be held solely responsible when they are only involved a fraction of the time. This incident had a lot of family history that went on way before the police were involved.”