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Tacoma mayor vows answers after police custody death of black man ruled a homicide

(Photo courtesy of City of Tacoma, Facebook)

Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards addressed on Wednesday the ruling on the death of Manuel Ellis, a 33-year-old black man who died while he was being restrained by Tacoma police officers on March 3. Manuel Ellis died of respiratory arrest, due to hypoxia, the Tacoma Tribune reports. The Pierce County Medical Examiner determined Ellis’ death was a homicide.

“I cannot imagine the pain that continues with the Ellis family loss, but I do know that our community wants both answers and justice, and so do I, and so does this entire council and administration,” she said in a press conference. “In the face of longstanding racism and recent national events, we are devastated to have the death of Manuel Ellis become part of this national conversation.”

Gov. Inslee expects answers on Ellis’ death, police response at Seattle protests

At the time of their late night encounter with Ellis, officials said Ellis was suffering from excited delirium, the Tribune reports. They added that that may have been why Ellis allegedly banged on an officer’s patrol car and tried to attack two officer who were trying to calm him down. The autopsy also revealed that Ellis had drugs in his system.

In the police recording, Ellis could be heard saying, “Can’t breathe.”

Woodards, who was out marching with protesters in Tacoma this week, says all four cops are on leave. She promises transparency and swift accountability, and pleaded with protesters to stay peaceful as they march and not let this detract from much needed change.

“What I have seen in the newspaper today is deeply troubling to our city, and to me as an African American woman who represents this city. We will be transparent. We don’t have all the answers today … I know you want answers, and so do I, and we will get those answers.”


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