DOJ now reviewing case against Tacoma PD officers acquitted in Manny Ellis' death
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle confirms it is reviewing the case against three Tacoma police officers involved in the death of Manuel Ellis.
"The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington, is conducting an independent review of the state’s case concerning Manuel Ellis’ death. If that review reveals violations of federal criminal statutes, the Justice Department will take appropriate action," said Emily Langlie, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle, in a statement.
Last month, the three officers — Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins and Timothy Rankine — were acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges by a jury in Pierce County for their role in Ellis’ death in 2020. Ellis’ family members then called for the U.S. Justice Department to evaluate whether the police officers violated Ellis’ civil rights when they forcibly restrained him. Ellis died at the scene after saying he couldn’t breathe.
Wayne Fricke, one of the defense attorneys for Tacoma Officer Burbank, said in an email: "I am not surprised that the United States Attorney is looking into the case. I fully expected that to happen at some point. I look at it as their office doing their due diligence and nothing more. I fully expect that after they review the information and hopefully speak to the defense, that they will close their files."
In the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis in 2020 that triggered widespread protests against police violence, the DOJ successfully prosecuted Derek Chauvin and the other police officers involved for federal civil rights offenses saying two other Minneapolis police officers deprived Floyd "of his constitutional right to be free from an officer’s unreasonable force when each willfully failed to intervene to stop former MPD Officer Derek Chauvin’s use of unreasonable force, resulting in bodily injury" and death. The officers were also convicted of failing to render aid to Floyd.