/  05.28.2021

The three Tacoma, Washington police officers who are charged in the death of Manuel Ellis, a Black man who was killed last year as he was being restrained, have pleaded not guilty.

According to King 5, Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins and Timothy Rankine entered their plea on Friday (May 28) in the Pierce County Superior Court. All three men voluntarily turned themselves in after they were indicted on Thursday (May 27). Burbank and Collins are charged with second-degree murder and Rankine is charged with first-degree manslaughter. Judge Schwartz set each of the officer’s bail at $100,000.

Burbank and Collins are both scheduled to appear back in court on June 11. Rankine is scheduled to appear back in court on June 24.

As REVOLT previously reported, Ellis died after he was tasered, hogtied and handcuffed as the officers tried to restrain him for allegedly “trying to open car doors of occupied vehicles.” They also placed a spit hood over his head.

Video footage taken by bystanders showed the officers repeatedly hitting Ellis and investigators say Collins put him into a neck restraint. Rankine reportedly applied pressure to Ellis’ back and held him down as he was hogtied with a strap.

The Pierce County medical examiner ruled Ellis’ death a homicide and said the cause of death was attributed to lack of oxygen from being restrained. His enlarged heart and methamphetamine intoxication were also listed as contributing factors.

Ellis reportedly had a history of mental illness and addiction. Back in 2019, he allegedly attempted to rob a fast food restaurant naked. However, his landlord said that he had been doing better after seeking care for his schizophrenia. 

This case marks the first time the attorney general’s office in Washington has charged police officers with unlawful use of deadly force. All three cops are currently on paid administrative leave.


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