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The Tacoma police chief has cleared the two officers involved in the March 2020 death of Manuel Ellis, a Black man from Tacoma, Washington. Ellis’ family is “heartbroken but not surprised,” according to The Seattle Times.
Those involved are Officers Masyih Ford and Armando Farinas. They will both face no consequences for the killing of a 33-year-old Black man, Manuel Ellis, who died while in police custody.
Not the type of result many people are looking for.
Per the story, people are angry with a majority of the criticism coming from Ellis’ family and their lawyers. But, three other officers have been criminally charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter for the killing of Ellis, who cried “I can’t breathe!” before he died of oxygen deprivation while being restrained.
“No one should be so naive to think that the Tacoma Police Department is motivated to police its own conduct and conduct a genuine investigation of what happened on March 3, 2020,” said attorney Matthew Ericksen, who described Ellis’ family as heartbroken but hardly surprised by the decision.
“This is our Christmas present. Merry Christmas to the Ellis family … we get to see officers go back to work after killing somebody,” said Ellis’ older brother, Matthew Ellis.
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Tough t0 hear from a father who lost his son.
According to the Seattle Times, Officers Ford and Farinas have been under investigation since March 2020, around the time Ellis died. The interim Tacoma police chief, Mike Ake, shared the findings from the probe with the City Council. They came to a decision an hour later.
The mayor of Tacoma recognized that people would be upset by the decision for them to be cleared and go back to work. But, she urged people to remain calm.
Good luck with that.
From The Seattle Times:
Ake said Farinas was the officer who placed a spit hood over Ellis’ head during the arrest. He said the officer’s actions were “reasonable and appropriate under the circumstances.”
“At the time of the application, officers on scene, including Officer Farinas, were concerned about a possible biohazard exposure due to Mr. Ellis spitting near officers,” the chief told the council. “Officer Farinas was familiar with how a spit hood worked and volunteered to retrieve one and apply it. Once the spit hood was applied, Officer Farinas had no other contact with Mr. Ellis.”
Ford, he said, helped hold Ellis’ legs down during the arrest and spent time talking to Ellis, “trying to calm him down and let him know medical aid was on the way.”
“When Mr. Ellis commented that he could not breathe, Officer Ford assisted in rolling him onto his side in a recovery position,” the chief said. “He also was the first officer to alert arriving medical personnel that Mr. Ellis’ condition was deteriorating.”
Ellis, a lifelong Tacoma resident, died on the street while being treated by the medics, according to reports.
The three other officers who were charged are Officers Matthew Collins, Christopher Burbank and Timothy Rankine. Officers Collins and Burbank were charged with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, while Officer Rankine was charged with first-degree manslaughter in the death of Ellis, according to the Seattle Times.
The details of Ellis’ death are difficult to hear.
From The Seattle Times:
Ellis had been staying at a sober-living home in south Tacoma called God’s Hand Up and on the night he died, he was returning home from a 7-Eleven with a bag of doughnuts. According to charging documents, Officers Collins and Burbank said they saw him in the middle of an intersection, hassling occupants of a passing car. A brief confrontation became violent, with Burbank knocking Ellis to the ground with his car door, the documents say.
Charges allege that Collins used a “lateral vascular neck restraint” from behind while Burbank repeatedly used a Taser on Ellis.
I question whether the two officers who were exonerated will remain that way considering the outrage that will come from Ellis’ family, lawyers and other people in the Tacoma community.
This content was originally published here.