Three Washington police officers have been cleared of all charges in the 2020 killing of a Black man whose death was compared to that of George Floyd.
On Thursday, a jury found three Washington state police officers not guilty of all criminal charges in the death of Manuel Ellis on a Tacoma sidewalk in 2020.
Three officers – Matthew Collins, 40, Christopher Burbank, 38, and Timothy Rankine, 34 – were charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. A jury found the three officers not guilty of all charges because of their attorneys’ argument that Ellis’ death was caused by methamphetamine in his system and a preexisting heart condition, not their actions.
Associated Press reports
There was a gasp from the gallery when the first not-guilty verdict was read. Rankine sat forward in his seat and wiped his eyes, while Collins hugged his lawyer.
Matthew Ericksen, a lawyer representing the Ellis family, said it was hard to convey how devastating the verdict was for the family and community.
“The biggest reason why I personally think this jury found reasonable doubt is because the defense was essentially allowed to put Manny Ellis on trial,” Ericksen said via email. “The defense attorneys were allowed to dredge up Manny’s past and repeat to the jury again and again Manny’s prior arrests in 2015 and 2019. That unfairly prejudiced jurors against Manny.”
Ellis was walking home with doughnuts from a 7-Eleven in Tacoma, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Seattle, late on March 3, 2020, when he passed a patrol car stopped at a red light, with Collins and Burbank inside.
The officers claimed they saw Ellis try to open the door of a passing car at the intersection and he became aggressive when they tried to question him about it. Collins testified that Ellis demonstrated “superhuman strength” by lifting him off the ground and throwing him through the air.
In his testimony, Officer Rankine called Ellis’ death a tragedy.
“The only response at that point that I could think of is, ‘If you can talk to me, you can still breathe,’” Rankine said.
There was no immediate response from the defendants’ lawyers when The Associated Press sought comment.
The Seattle Times quoted Collins’ attorney,
Source: The Gateway Pundit