Attorney: No justice yet in Tacoma death strikingly similar to George Floyd’s

Apr 20, 2021, 4:25 PM
Tacoma, Manuel Ellis, James Bible...
Attorney James Bible speaks to the media flanked by the family of Manuel Ellis. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Tuesday saw a jury convict Derek Chauvin on three counts for the murder of George Floyd. But for another, similar incident that took place in Tacoma just two month’s before Floyd’s death in 2020, a family is pushing for justice of its own.

Washington leaders react to guilty verdict for Derek Chauvin

Civil rights attorney James Bible represents the family of Manuel Ellis, and labeled Tuesday’s verdict in Chauvin’s trial “an emotional moment for the entire nation.” He believes it was the compelling video of Chauvin leaning on George Floyd’s neck that lead to the eventual conviction.

“Him calling out for his mom, pleading for help,” he described. “Then his lifeless body simply laying there while Mr. Chauvin still had his knee on his neck.”

Even with that video — and the jury’s relatively short deliberations — Bible wasn’t fully convinced Chauvin would be convicted. He thought there was a significant chance for a hung jury, if not an acquittal.

“There are so many other cases that have come forward and gone through the court process and even had video — such as Rodney King — where officers were eventually found not guilty,” he pointed out.

Many have drawn parallels between Ellis’s death in the custody of Tacoma police in March of 2020, and Floyd’s murder at the hands of Chauvin. Similar to Floyd, Ellis was seen on video complaining to officers that he couldn’t breathe while being restrained.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s later ruled Ellis’ death a homicide, but said that drugs may have played a role as well.

In the months since, the case has been hampered by delays. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office originally led the investigation, but Washington State Patrol took over when it was revealed that a previously unidentified Pierce County deputy was also on the scene when Ellis died.

Previously unidentified police officers involved in death of Manuel Ellis

Ellis’s family is pursuing civil lawsuits, but wants the case prosecuted.

“What they want is some amount of authentic accountability,” Bible said Tuesday.

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Attorney: No justice yet in Tacoma death strikingly similar to George Floyd’s