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Washington state AG charges 3 police officers over killing of black man who died after saying he ‘couldn’t breathe’

Washington state AG charges 3 police officers over killing of black man who died after saying he ‘couldn’t breathe’

Two police officers in the US city of Tacoma have been charged with murder and another with manslaughter over the death of a black man who died saying he “couldn’t breathe” as he was being restrained in March last year.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Thursday charged Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins with second-degree murder, and Timothy Rankine with first-degree manslaughter.

Manuel Ellis, 33, died on March 3, 2020 just weeks before the police killing of George Floyd sparked worldwide protests against racism and the treatment of black people by law enforcement.

Ellis was walking home when he was apprehended by two officers, who eyewitnesses report had knocked him down in an unprovoked attack. The officers said Ellis instigated the incident by trying to enter vehicles stopped at a red light and then charging at police when confronted.

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Pierce County’s medical examiner said Ellis’ death was a homicide primarily caused by a lack of oxygen due to being physically restrained.

Several witnesses said he did not resist as he was restrained on the ground by Burbank and Collins, with the second officer having put Ellis in a chokehold, according to one testimony. Ellis said multiple times he “couldn’t breathe” as he was restrained by the police, according to witness testimony cited by the attorney general. Video evidence also showed officers appearing to apply a chokehold – or lateral vascular neck restraint – and shooting Ellis with a taser.

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