CLEVELAND — Funeral services were held Monday for the mother of 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson, who died in 2014 while being restrained by Cleveland police following a 911 call for mental health assistance.
Family members say 62-year-old Cassandra Johnson passed away Sept. 15, never fully recovering from the emotional strain of losing her daughter, and plagued by the painful memories of that night in November 2014 when the family repeatedly called 911 for mental health assistance for Tanisha who battled a bipolar disorder.
She spent the years following her daughter's death fighting for increased crisis intervention training for police.
In an exclusive interview with News 5 in the years since, Johnson recounted hearing her daughter praying "The Lord's Prayer," while police pinned her to an icy sidewalk outside the family's home.
She died later in the hospital from effects of the restraint similar to those used in the George Floyd tragedy.
As a reporter who interviewed Ms. Johnson on several occasions since, it was apparent the toll her daughter's death took on her life.
While Cleveland Police instituted a more fully defined crisis intervention training program, the family says many other steps remain to be taken, including the passage of "Tanisha's Law," a proposed state law that would make training mandatory across Ohio.
Johnson not only crusaded here in Cleveland on behalf of the mentally ill and the need for crisis intervention training, but she was also an effective spokesperson for the "Say Her Name" project by the African American Policy Forum that seeks to underscore the plight of African American woman whose deaths often go unnoticed.
"It is with great sadness that we share the passing of our beloved Mother's Network member, Cassandra Johnson," said a posting on the policy forum's website that also included a video Johnson appears in, urging action on behalf of the mentally ill and the death of her daughter.
"What can I do to change something in her honor, since she's not coming back?"said Johnson in the video.