Mayor calls for arrest of 4 officers allegedly involved in Tacoma man’s death

Monet Carter-Mixon, sister of Manny Ellis, speaks at a press conference in front of the Pierce County Superior Court Thursday, June 4, 2020 regarding the killing of her brother by Tacoma police. At left is Manny's mother Marcia Carter-Patterson and at right is his brother Matthew Ellis. Tacoma police's restraint of Manuel Ellis caused his death the medical examiner has reported. The community has been protesting the March 3, 2020, for the past week.
Monet Carter-Mixon, sister of Manny Ellis, speaks at a press conference in front of the Pierce County Superior Court Thursday, June 4, 2020 regarding the killing of her brother by Tacoma police. At left is Manny's mother Marcia Carter-Patterson and at right is his brother Matthew Ellis. Tacoma police's restraint of Manuel Ellis caused his death the medical examiner has reported. The community has been protesting the March 3, 2020, for the past week.

Credit: Ellen M. Banner

Credit: Ellen M. Banner

Like George Floyd, Manuel Ellis died after being restrained by police

The mayor of Tacoma, Washington, has called for the firing and prosecution of four Tacoma Police Department officers involved in the March 3 death of a 33-year-old black man who cried out “I can’t breathe” as police restrained him on the ground despite being handcuffed.

“We have waited way too long,” Victoria Woodards said at a news conference late Thursday night.

Explore» RELATED: Another black man in police custody who died while saying ‘I can’t breathe’ was killed, autopsy shows

A report released Wednesday by the Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office determined Manuel Ellis was murdered as a result of oxygen deprivation and the physical restraint that was used on him.

So far, no charges have been announced, although the case was expected to be presented to the district prosecutor by the end of the week, according to officials.

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Tacoma police have identified the four officers involved in restraining Ellis as Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins, Masyih Ford and Timothy Rankine.

Burbank and Collins are white, Ford is black, and Rankine is Asian.

All four were initially placed on paid administrative leave after the incident, but in the weeks since were allowed to return to work and then were placed on leave again, according to reports.

"I am demanding tonight that the Pierce County Sheriff review and confirm every action taken by each officer," Woodards said at a news conference late Thursday night, according to CBS News. "I demand that the sheriff provide details of the actions of each officer on the scene and I am directing the city manager to fire each officer involved."

Woodards added: “The officers who committed this crime should be fired and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Explore» MORE: Video shows Louisville man fired gun before being killed by police

None of the officers involved in the March 3 arrest were wearing body cameras at the time, but Woodards cited a video that was taken of the incident, which aided the investigation.  The video was provided by a woman who witnessed the arrest and pleaded with officers to “stop hitting him” after Ellis wrestled to the ground, according to The New York Times.

Manuel Ellis, 33, died in March shortly after an incident with Tacoma, Washington, police.
Manuel Ellis, 33, died in March shortly after an incident with Tacoma, Washington, police.

Credit: The New York Times

Credit: The New York Times

Reports say Ellis was walking home from a convenience store around 11 p.m. on March 3 when the Tacoma father and two city police officers crossed paths.

Police said they saw Ellis harassing a woman at nearby intersection and asked what he was doing. Ellis approached and banged on the window of their cruiser, accoring to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, which is investigating the incident. That’s when the officers called for backup.

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Ellis then picked up one of the officers "by his vest and slam-dunked him on the ground," as he got out of the car, Sheriff spokesman Ed Troyer said, according to CBS News.

Officers later reported that Ellis appeared to be in a state of mania.

Two other officers soon joined the struggle and Ellis was handcuffed on the ground. Officers called paramedics to the scene around 11:25 p.m., and a minute later Ellis lost consciousness and died.

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He can be heard pleading “I can’t breathe” on a 12-minute police audio recording as officers called for an ambulance.

The autopsy listed the official cause of death as a homicide brought on by “respiratory arrest due to hypoxia due to physical restraint.” The report also cited methamphetamine intoxication and heart disease as contributing factors.

News of Ellis’ death spread as unrest has gripped the nation over the death of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis police custody on Memorial Day. The four officers involved in that case have been fired and now face several felony murder-related charges.

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