Three officers acquitted in Manuel Ellis’ death will each receive $500,000 to leave Tacoma police

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SEATTLE (AP) — Three Washington state police officers have been acquitted of criminal charges in the 2020 death of Manuel Ellis — a Black man who was shocked, beaten and face-cuffed to the sidewalk while he was… I begged for breath – They will each receive $500,000 to leave the Tacoma Police Department, according to documents released Tuesday.

“This tells the public that these are excellent officers, and it’s unfortunate that Tacoma is losing them,” said Anne Bremner, attorney for one of the officers, Timothy Rankin.

The jury acquitted Rankin (34 years old) and co-defendants Matthew Collins (40 years old) and Christopher Burbank (38 years old) of the charge against them. in December After a trial that lasted more than two months. Rankin was charged with manslaughter, while Collins and Burbank were charged with manslaughter and second-degree murder.

The city released copies of “voluntary separation” agreements with officers on Tuesday, with Police Chief Avery Moore announcing findings that none violated a use-of-force policy effective March 3, 2020. Collins was found to have violated a courtesy policy. .

The use of force policy has since been updated. The old system “failed to serve the best interests of the police department or the community,” Moore said.

“These agreements support a responsible and constructive path forward for our community and the Tacoma Police Department,” City Manager Elizabeth Pauley said in a written statement.

An attorney for the Ellis family did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Ellis, 33, was returning home carrying donuts from a 7-Eleven store in Tacoma, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Seattle, when he passed a patrol car stopped at a red light, with Collins and Burbank inside.

Officers claimed they saw Ellis trying to open the door of a passing car at the intersection and became aggressive when they tried to question him about it. Collins testified that Ellis demonstrated “superhuman strength” by lifting Collins off the ground and throwing him into the air.

But three witnesses testified that they had never seen anything like that. After what appeared to be a brief conversation between Ellis and the officers, both of whom are white, Burbank, in the passenger seat, opened his door, causing Ellis to fall to the ground, they said.

Witnesses — one of whom shouted for the officers to stop attacking Ellis — and a doorbell surveillance camera Video captured Parts of the encounter showed the video showing Ellis with his hands raised in a surrender position while Burbank fired a Taser into his chest and Collins wrapped his arm around his neck from behind.

Rankin was among several other officers who responded. Ellis was already handcuffed and face down when he arrived. Rankin knelt on his upper back.

A video showed Ellis addressing officers as “sir” while telling them he couldn’t breathe. One of the officers was heard responding: “Shut the (expletive) up, man.”

Lawyers for the officers argued that Ellis died because of a lethal amount of methamphetamine in his system as well as a heart condition, not because of the officers’ actions.

Ellis’ death became a touchstone for racial justice protesters in the Pacific Northwest. But it also coincided with the first The outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic in the United States At a nursing home in nearby Kirkland, he did not draw attention to that The police killing of George Floyd In Minneapolis I did nearly three months later.

It was the first trial Under 5-year-old state law It is designed to make it easier to prosecute police accused of unlawful use of deadly force.

Ellis’ family settled a federal wrongful death lawsuit against Pierce County, which includes Tacoma, for $4 million last year.

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