Pierce County prosecutor wants state involved now in Manuel Ellis case
The Pierce County prosecutor is pushing back at the governor’s promise of state review of any charges – or lack of them – in the case of Manuel Ellis.
Ellis died in March after being restrained by Tacoma police officers, telling them “I can’t breathe” as he was held to the ground.
Ellis’ family have demanded a completely independent investigation, but local officials have not signed onto that.
County Prosecutor Mary Robnett said Sunday that she’ll get a review on Wednesday from the county Sheriff’s Office.
“Tensions are high,” she said. “Not lost on me that this is a very emotional, difficult, taxing time.”
Robnett must determine whether to charge any officers in Ellis’ death.
On Friday, Governor Jay Inslee promised that the Attorney General’s Office will then review her decision.
But Robnett said it would save time for the Attorney General’s Office to join her this week in hearing the findings from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.
“Attend our briefing on Wednesday. Ask questions of detectives, ask questions of the Medical Examiner, start their own deliberative process,” she said. “There’s just no point in delay.”
But the governor’s office said for the attorney general to take part now could compromise the independence of the review.
Then on Monday, Robnett raised things up a notch – sending out a statement that she had granted “concurrent jurisdiction” to the Attorney General Bob Ferguson. She invited Ferguson and the State Patrol to the meeting Wednesday.
Ferguson declined the offer.
Robnett also said she had invited Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards to attend.
Woodards has called publicly for the officers involved to be fired and criminally charged – after the sheriff’s review.