Tacoma Officers Face Trial in Manny Ellis Case: Police Accountability Under Scrutiny

Tacoma Officers Face Trial in Manny Ellis Case: In Tacoma, Washington, three officers will go on trial for the death of a 33-year-old Black man, Manny Ellis. Ellis endured a horrifying ordeal involving physical assault and restraint.

Matthew Collins and Christopher Burbank, both white, face charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter. Officer Timothy Rankine, an Asian American, is charged with manslaughter for allegedly kneeling on Ellis’ back as he struggled to breathe and pressing his face against the concrete.

This trial is the first time a Washington state law, in place for five years, to prosecute police officers for unjustified deadly force, has been utilized.

All three cops deny guilt in the cases. The jury has been chosen for two weeks.

Ellis’s death was ruled a murder by the Pierce County Medical Examiner due to asphyxiation.

Experts hired by the officers’ defence team said Ellis’s death was due to drug use, particularly methamphetamine and underlying health issues. The prosecutor disagreed with the experts.

The case revolves around videos of critical events. Manny Ellis walked home with doughnuts from a 7-Eleven on March 3, 2020, the night of the accident. He spotted Collins and Burbank in their police car at a red light.

Witnesses said Ellis and the police briefly talked before Burbank, in the passenger seat, abruptly opened the car door and knocked Ellis down. The cops then physically hurt the man by punching him and using Tasers. Simultaneously, a cop applied a neck restraint.

Ellis was immobilized and struggling to breathe when Rankine arrived. Ellis attempted to live, but Rankine still kneeled on his back.

Ellis allegedly attacked police by hitting the cruiser’s window while attempting to enter another vehicle. Civilian witnesses disproved claims. Three riders from different cars say Ellis didn’t act violently.

The cellphone videos and nearby home camera footage show Ellis raising his hands and calling the police officers “sir.” Ellis was scared, so a cop yelled at him to “shut up.”

The hearing is in Pierce County Superior Court and is expected to last four days a week. Scheduled to end in early December.