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3 Tacoma officers found not guilty in the death of Manny Ellis in 2020 have resigned from the department

After the prosecution and defense rested their cases three Tacoma police officers, Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins and Timothy Rankine, on trial in the killing of Manny Ellis, get up and head out of Pierce County Superior Court in Tacoma, Washington, U.S., on December 6, 2023.Ellen M. Banner/Pool/Reuters/File

The three Tacoma police officers who were found not guilty by a jury last month in the death of Manuel Ellis have resigned from the department, according to a statement from the city of Tacoma on Tuesday.

“The City of Tacoma and former Tacoma Police Officers Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins, and Timothy Rankine have entered into voluntary resignation agreements, separating all three from City service,” a statement from Tacoma City Manager Elizabeth Pauli said. “These agreements support a responsible, constructive path forward for our community and the Tacoma Police Department.”

In exchange for their resignations, each officer received $500,000, according to the voluntary resignation agreements released by the city of Tacoma.

Manuel “Manny Ellis” was a Black man who died in custody after saying he couldn’t breathe during his arrest in 2020. All three officers were acquitted of charges in December 2023 after pleading not guilty.

Ellis repeatedly cried out “I can’t breathe,” on a police dispatch radio. Officers arrested him on March 3, 2020, on counts of allegedly trying to open car doors of occupied vehicles.

According to court documents, Burbank and Collins were accused of tackling and striking Ellis, shooting him with a taser and applying an LVNR (Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint “without justification.” They also failed to render aid or call for medical help and put him in “hogtie restraints,” according to the documents.

Rankine was accused of holding Ellis in the prone position and applying pressure to his back despite hearing the man say he could not breathe, court documents said.

The cause of his death was respiratory arrest due to hypoxia – a condition in which the body is deprived of oxygen –  caused by physical restraint, according to the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Defense attorneys had argued at the trial that Ellis died from a lethal amount of methamphetamine in his system and his preexisting heart conditions.

A statement from the police chief said that the officers were found not to be in violation of the 2020 use of force policies. He said these policies have since been updated.

“The Use of Force policy in place in March of 2020 failed to serve the best interests of the police department or the community. However, because it was policy at the time, it guided my decisions announced today,” Tacoma Police Chief Avery Moore said in his statement announcing the officers’ resignations. “That policy has since been superseded by a new policy.”

Ellis’s death rocked the city of Tacoma and lead to widespread protests across the city.

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