MYNORTHWEST NEWS

3 police officers found not guilty in Manny Ellis case

Dec 21, 2023, 3:20 PM | Updated: 6:07 pm

Image: Ellis family attorney James Bible, third from left, speaks after Manny Ellis' sister Monet C...

Ellis family attorney James Bible, third from left, speaks after Manny Ellis' sister Monet Carter-Mixon, third from right and sitting down, testified Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023 in the trial against three Tacoma police officers charged in causing Ellis' death. (Photo: Kate Stone, KIRO Newsradio)

(Photo: Kate Stone, KIRO Newsradio)

A jury has cleared three Tacoma police officers of all criminal charges in the 2020 death of Manny Ellis.

Ellis, a 33-year-old Black man, died in Tacoma police custody on the night of March 3, 2020, following a confrontation with police officers Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins and Timothy Rankine.

The officers were charged with first-degree manslaughter for killing Ellis. Collins and Burbank also faced charges of second-degree murder. The defendants previously pleaded not guilty. They were free on bail while remaining on paid leave from the Tacoma Police Department.

More on the Manny Ellis trial: State Attorney General charges three officers for death of Manuel Ellis

Over the course of the trial, the prosecution called upon more than 20 witnesses, including medical and crime scene experts, local law enforcement and eyewitnesses. Attorneys for the state argued the police officers illegally stopped and assaulted Ellis, putting him in hogtie restraints until he suffocated to death.

Defense attorneys for the officers argued meth and a heart condition ultimately killed Ellis. Ellis struggled with an addiction to meth, according to Monet Carter-Mixon, Manny Ellis’ younger sister.

Carter-Mixon also acknowledged on the stand that her brother struggled with mental health, noting he was diagnosed with depression and schizophrenia.

“He would get very, very down. Very sad and really emotional and vulnerable,” Carter-Mixon said. “We talked a lot about that.”

Carter-Mixon told the jury Ellis was in sober living and recovering at the time of his death.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner ruled Ellis’ death as a homicide last month, caused primarily by a lack of oxygen due to being restrained, but also cited methamphetamine use and Ellis’ existing heart condition were “significant contributing factors.” But, despite the contributing factors, the medical examiner, Dr. Thomas Clark, said he felt “reasonably confident” that it was hypoxia due to restraints when he took the stand.

Two days earlier, the judge in the trial had to order jurors to start deliberations from scratch, as a juror who had an illness in the family was replaced by an alternate. A second juror had to be replaced when they tested positive for COVID-19.

More on the Manny Ellis trial: Opening statements begin in trial of Tacoma officers accused of killing Manny Ellis

This was the first case in Washington to be tried under a five-year-old police accountability law that made it easier to prosecute officers who use deadly force.

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3 police officers found not guilty in Manny Ellis case