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Tacoma, Wash. officers acquitted in man’s death to be paid $500K for resignations

A photo of Manuel Ellis is displayed while Special Assistant Attorney General Patty Eakes gives closing arguments during the trial of three Tacoma Police officers in the killing of Ellis. Brian Hayes/The News Tribune via AP, Pool

Tacoma, Wash. officers acquitted in man’s death to be paid $500K for resignations

Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins were acquitted last month of second-degree murder and manslaughter for the death of Manuel Ellis. The other officer, Timothy Rankine, was acquitted of first-degree manslaughter. The officers voluntarily resigned in good standing from the Tacoma Police Department earlier this month and will each be paid $500,000 according to the agreements. Court documents say that in March 2020, the three officers struck, tased, and forcibly restrained Ellis for several minutes while he was struggling to breathe. Ellis was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Why were they charged? The medical examiner ruled that Ellis died by homicide from lack of oxygen due to physical restraint. Defense attorneys argued that Ellis’ heart condition and methamphetamine intoxication killed him. Court documents note that the medical examiner said the presence of methamphetamine very likely did not cause Ellis’ death. The medical examiner found that Ellis’ symptoms were consistent with death due to medical restraint and not a medical emergency.

Dig deeper: Read Leo Briceno’s report in The Stew on a proposal to fix police brutality in Colorado.

Johanna Huebscher

Johanna Huebscher is a student at Bob Jones University and a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

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