The death of a black man who was detained three months ago has been identified as murder.
Manuel Ellis, 33, father of an 11-year-old and 18-month-old, shouted “I can’t breathe” when Tacoma police held him on the ground while he was handcuffed on March 3.
Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins, Masyih Ford and Timothy Rankine, the four agents involved, did not wear body cameras, but the sheriff’s investigative agency said video evidence was submitted as part of the investigation.
But on Wednesday, the church band musician’s death was labeled as manslaughter when the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Ellis died of respiratory arrest due to hypoxia due to physical disability.
Manuel Ellis, 33, father of an 11-year-old and 18-month-old, shouted ‘I can’t breathe’ when Tacoma police held him on the ground while being handcuffed on March 3
The announcement came when Americans marched in all 50 states in protest of police brutality against African Americans and racial inequality.
There are similarities in the deaths of Ellis and George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis last week after a white police officer pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes and others held his upper and lower body to the ground.
On the night Ellis died, the police met him at 11:22 PM as he walked home.
Police said he was harassing a woman at a crossroads when two officers in the area asked what he was doing.
Police say Ellis said he had warrants and wanted to talk to them, police said.
Officers claim that Ellis then repeatedly knocked on their patrol car and called the two officers inside for backup and then got out of the vehicle.
Ed Troyer, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department of Pierce County, who is investigating the incident, said, “He picked up the officer by the vest and hit him on the ground.”
According to the police, there was a struggle before the police got Ellis on the ground with handcuffs and the police called paramedics at 11:25 p.m.
During the conversation, the police ask for bumps and the dispatch tells Ellis to be tied. At one point, Ellis heard his saying “can’t breathe.”
Within a minute of firefighters arriving, Ellis stopped breathing and lost consciousness. First responders removed the cuffs and worked on him for 40 minutes. He was pronounced dead on the spot.
Police said the father of an 11-year-old and 18-year-old woman harassed women in Washington State when they approached him
His cause of death was initially listed as pending, while medical examiners performed toxicological tests.
This week, Tacoma police identified the four officers involved in controlling Ellis.
Burbank, 34, and Collins, 37, are Caucasian and have served four and a half years and five years, respectively.
Ford, 28, is black and Rankine, 31, is Asian. They spent two years and two months in the police, one year and ten months respectively.
All four were placed on paid administrative leave after the incident. They have been back to work ever since.
Contributing factors included methamphetamine intoxication and dilated cardiomyopathy, commonly known as an enlarged heart, the medical researcher said.
Police chief Don Ramsdell said he is waiting for the investigators’ final report on Ellis’s death. The case is expected to be forwarded to Pierce County Prosecutor next week.
“The information is all being collected,” said Pierce County Detective Troyer. “We expect to present it to the prosecutor by the end of this week or early next week.”
We will hear the results of that investigation, even if our country withdraws from the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others, “said Mayor Woodards.
He said the officers rolled Ellis on his side when he said he “can’t breathe” and doesn’t believe they used a suffocation or knee in the neck.
Eric Garner died after the police put him in a stranglehold for allegedly selling cigarettes illegally, and George Floyd died under the pressure of one knee in his neck while suspected of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $ 20 bill.
Both black men cried to the police, “I can’t breathe.”
The main reason he was reluctant was that he wouldn’t hurt himself or them, “said Detective Troyer. “As soon as he said he couldn’t breathe, they asked for medical attention.”
Ellis’ sister, whose children he helped care for,
“There are still many questions to be answered,” said Ellis’s sister, Mrs. Carter-Mixon. “My heart literally hurts. It is painful. My brother was my best friend. ‘
A vigil took place in Tacoma on Wednesday evening.
A close friend of Ellis’ said they had a video call two hours before the incident. They told me how excited he was to attend church where he played the drums.
“He was always uplifting,” Brian Giordano told the New York Times. “He was always taking care of people.”
He said that Ellis lived in a clean and down-to-earth house and got his life together.
“The harshest reality is that George Floyd is here in Tacoma and his name is Manny,” attorney James Bible, who represents Ellis’s family, told The News Tribune.
Governor Jay Inslee said on Wednesday that he and Tacoma will “ urge Mayor Victoria Woodards to ensure that there is a full and complete investigation into that incident. ”
“We will learn the results of that investigation, even if our country faces the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others,” said Ms. Woodards.
She urged protesters not to let their emotions overwhelm them.
“While Tacoma has gathered peacefully to have tough talks about the change that needs to happen to save African American lives, we have seen how the tension of this issue and these lost lives has turned into more violence,” said Woodards.
“We are not sitting back and let the national tensions run away in the progress we are pursuing. Together we will serve as an example that we can move forward as a community if we are united in purpose and love. ‘