Second autopsy ordered in Tanisha Anderson case after 'homicide' ruling

Second autopsy ordered in Tanisha Anderson case

CLEVELAND - Another development is slowing down the process of finding justice in the Tanisha Anderson case.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office, now charged with the investigation, has ordered a second autopsy be performed after the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Anderson’s death a homicide.

Anderson, 37, died while in the custody of Cleveland Police on November 13, 2014.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office was asked to handle the case after it was asked to step in because of what’s known as 'Garrity material.'

The AG’s office received the case file November 21st a spokesperson says, and the new autopsy was requested in January.

Garrity Rights “protect public employees from being compelled to incriminate themselves during investigatory interviews conducted by their employers.”

The Attorney General’s spokesperson, Dan Tierney, says the AG’s Office asked the court to appoint a special master who would in turn remove any Garrity material.

Part of clearing the investigation of any material violating Garrity Rights, also removed a cause of death, Tierney told WKYC Channel 3's Hilary Golston.

The AG’s office decided to engage an independent “elected coroner” to complete a second autopsy by reviewing available files and photographs.

There will be no exhumation.

While the details of the Cuyohoga County Medical Examiner’s results have been widely reported on, Tierney says his office “would be prohibited from using that in the death investigation.”

Defense council can motion that the case can be dismissed, based on the Garrity material.  

The medical examiner called Anderson's death homicide by legal intervention and physical restraint in a prone position, adding that a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and heart disease were also factors. 

“He killed my daughter,” Anderson’s mother Cassandra Johnson said of the officer involved in her daughter’s death.

“It was ruled a homicide,” Johnson told Golston. “A homicide means you did it… so how does it go from a homicide to something else… because of a Garrity Law??? That stops everything… Do you have a Garrity Law, do you have one?”

Johnson sees the new autopsy request as a delay tactic. “They don’t want to convict the police… it’s simple as that… It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that… they don’t want to charge them… because they’re the police.”

Johnson’s Attorney David Malik, who represented the family in a lawsuit leading to a more than $2 million settlement, called the investigation “a three-ring circus,” blaming some hiccups on government inefficiency.

Tierney fiercely denies claims the autopsy request is a delay tactic. "We're trying to determine if someone should be charged with a crime... we need a cause of death,” he said over the phone.

That’s not good enough for Johnson, who has had to live without her daughter for more than 2 years.  “This alters your life completely… forever… forever. It never goes away,” Johnson said. 

WKYC


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