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Family, attorney react to charging decision in Manuel Ellis case

James Bible and Ellis family (KIRO 7 screenshot)

“This morning, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office made a decision that this family has been waiting 14 months to hear about.”

State Attorney General charges three officers for death of Manuel Ellis

Attorney James Bible spoke for the family Thursday afternoon after learning of the Attorney General’s decision to charge three Tacoma police officers in the death of Manuel Ellis.

This marks the first time that the Washington Attorney General’s Office has criminally charged police officers for the unlawful use of deadly force.

“But there’s a reality in this,” Bible said. “The reality is you won’t want to be first in this kind of way. You might want to be first in your class at school. You might want to be first in a track race or a football game, but you don’t want to be in a place where for over 14 months you mourn the loss of your loved one and suffer the demonization of your family, of the people that stand with you, and most importantly, of the person … the police killed.”

“There are no winners at this moment,” Bible added, noting that there are only questions about how we move forward and where we go from here.

Manuel “Manny” Ellis died in Tacoma while in police custody on March 3, 2020. An autopsy by the Pierce County Medical Examiner concluded the death a homicide, but found drugs and a heart condition also contributed to Ellis’ death.

Two officers — Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins — have been charged with second-degree murder, while a third, Timothy Rankine, was charged with first-degree manslaughter charges.

Why did it take 14 months?

“The Washington State Patrol is incapable of conducting an independent investigation when it comes to law enforcement,” Bible said. “The delay comes because police were investigating police, no matter what uniform they were wearing. … There’s no room for sham investigations. There’s no place for that.”

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Bible demanded more action from state and city leaders, including the Tacoma City Council and the Pierce County Executive.

“We won’t let the mayor off the hook,” Bible said. “Those officers were not fired. There wasn’t enough of an attempt.”

Tacoma police union reacts to charges in Manual Ellis case

“We are not fighting against flesh and blood, we are fighting against principalities that live in high places,” said Marcia Carter-Patterson, Manuel Ellis’ mother.

She says her son was used as a sacrifice by God.

“[God] wanted to expose the corruption that is in our city council, this whole state, the criminal system needs to be made over from the head – just take it all off,” she said.

His mother also urged people to “quit being scared and playing politics.”

“This is about Manuel Elijah Ellis,” she said. “This is his work. So help us get there.”

Manuel Ellis’ sister, Monet Carter-Mixon, promised that their work is not over. Bible, Carter-Patterson, and members of the Tacoma Action Collective credited Monet as the reason they were all there today and had reached this point.

“We wouldn’t be here right now, as a state, if it weren’t for Monet,” Bible said.

“Even though these three men have been charged, I must say, that if it had not been for persistence of this young lady right here, my daughter, … her voice. She said, ‘mom, my voice is my brother’s voice,’” Carter-Patterson recalled. “She told his story with her voice.”

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