(StraightNews.org) – Three Washington police officers who were cleared of killing a black man in 2020 will receive $500,000 each to leave the Tacoma Police Department. Manuel Ellis died on a Tacoma sidewalk after being restrained by police officers Matthew Collins, Christopher Burbank, and Timothy Rankine.
Prosecutors later charged Rankine with manslaughter, while Collins and Burbank were accused of manslaughter and second-degree murder. A jury acquitted all three last December, but documents released in January confirm that they have entered “voluntary separation” agreements with Tacoma Police. Chief Avery Moore also announced that none of the officers had violated the department’s use-of-force policy, and this would be updated.
“These agreements support a responsible, constructive path forward for our community and the Tacoma Police Department,” City Manager Elizabeth Pauli said.
The Ellis family attorney Matthew Ericksen called the payouts “perverse.” He said everyone in the community should be upset, and Seattle’s US attorney’s office has confirmed that it will review the case.
Details of the incident are similar to the notorious police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020. Officer Rankine was accused of kneeling on Ellis’s upper back as he was handcuffed and restrained face down on the ground. Attorneys for the accused officers argued that Ellis had a lethal amount of methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death, and he suffered from a heart condition.
According to the officers’ testimony, they approached Ellis when they spotted him trying to open the doors of parked cars. They said he exhibited “superhuman strength” when they approached him by throwing one of the officers through the air.
A doorbell surveillance camera captured parts of the incident and revealed that Officer Burbank shot Ellis with a taser to his chest while Officer Collins wrapped his arm around his neck from behind and wrestled him to the ground. Officer Rankine responded to a backup call and held Ellis to the ground with his knee while he reportedly said he “can’t breathe.”
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