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HomeusTrial begins for 3 Tacoma, Washington, officers accused of killing Manuel Ellis

Trial begins for 3 Tacoma, Washington, officers accused of killing Manuel Ellis

Jury selection started Monday in the trial of three Tacoma police officers charged in the death of Manuel “Manny” Ellis, a 33-year-old Black man who was tackled, punched, shocked with a stun gun and held face down on a sidewalk in March 2020, two months before George Floyd met a similar fate.

Officers Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins, who are white, have been charged with second-degree murder, and Timothy Rankine, who is Asian American, faces first-degree manslaughter charges. They pleaded not guilty.

Jury selection is expected to take two weeks and opening statements are slated to start Oct. 2 in Pierce County Superior Court in Tacoma. The trial is expected to run four days each week until December.

Charges were filed on May 27, 2021, marking the first time the attorney general’s office has charged a law enforcement officer with murder. It was only the second time an officer has been charged with murder in Washington state since voters approved Initiative 940 in 2018, which removed the requirement that prosecutors show an officer acted with malice in order to be charged with murder.

Auburn Officer Jeffrey Nelson was charged in 2020 with second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the shooting death of Jesse Sarey on May 31, 2019. His trial is pending.

Ellis’ family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county and officers and the Pierce County Council approved a $4 million settlement agreement in 2022. The deal ended the county’s involvement, but Monet Carter-Mixon, and mother, Marcia Carter, continue to pursue their wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Tacoma.

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