On December 21, a Tacoma, Washington jury acquitted three White police officers, Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins, and Timothy Rankine, of all charges related to the death of Manuel “Manny” Ellis, a Black man who died in police custody in 2020.

According to a report by CNN, The officers faced charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter. Ellis, 33, died while handcuffed and hogtied in police custody. The incident occurred after he was detained for allegedly attempting to open the car doors of occupied vehicles, though conflicting eyewitness accounts surrounded the circumstances of his apprehension.

Video footage captured part of the incident, with Ellis heard saying “I can’t breathe” on police dispatch audio during the arrest. The officers were accused of using deadly force during the detainment.

The acquittal, which spared the officers from potential life sentences, marked a significant development in a case that drew parallels to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, sparking protests and contributing to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Charges were filed against the officers in May 2021, making it the first time Washington’s attorney general had criminally charged officers for the unlawful use of deadly force. The arrest attempt on Ellis, who was detained on March 3, 2020, escalated into a physical altercation, with officers tackling and restraining him, using a stun gun multiple times, and employing a neck restraint.

While prosecuting attorneys argued that Ellis died due to unnecessary physical force, the defense claimed he succumbed to a combination of methamphetamine in his system and pre-existing heart conditions. The official cause of death, as per the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office, was listed as respiratory arrest due to hypoxia caused by physical restraint.

In March 2022, Pierce County, Washington, reached a $4 million settlement with Ellis’ family. The verdict prompted emotional reactions from Ellis’ family and supporters, who cried as they left the courtroom.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson expressed gratitude to the jury and court staff, acknowledging the pain felt by the Ellis family. The Tacoma Police Department issued a statement, emphasizing its commitment to creating a just and transparent public safety model, recognizing the challenges of rebuilding trust in the community.



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