TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A jury has cleared three Washington state police officers of all criminal charges in the 2020 death of Manuel Ellis, a Black man who was shocked, beaten and restrained face down on a Tacoma sidewalk as he pleaded for breath.
Two of the officers — Matthew Collins, 40, and Christopher Burbank, 38 — had been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, while Timothy Rankine, 34, was charged with manslaughter. The jury found the three not guilty on all counts.
The Pierce County medical examiner ruled Ellis’ death a homicide caused by oxygen deprivation, but lawyers for the officers said a high level of methamphetamine in Ellis’ system and a heart irregularity were to blame.
Witnesses — one of whom yelled for the officers to stop attacking Ellis — and a doorbell surveillance camera captured video of parts of the encounter the night of March 3, 2020. The video showed Ellis with his hands up in a surrender position as Burbank shot a Taser at his chest and Collins wrapped an arm around his neck from behind.
The officers later told investigators that Ellis attacked them and was violent. Witnesses testified that they saw no such thing.