TACOMA, Wash. — Several of the Tacoma officers’ defense attorneys acknowledged the emotion around the not guilty verdicts in the Manuel Ellis trial and the difficulty of the situation.
But they were also very clear that they felt the case should have never been brought to trial.
Defense attorneys said the jurors made the right decision as they also extended their sympathies to Ellis’ loved ones.
“We understand, obviously, the Ellis family is suffering, they’re grieving,” said Wayne Fricke, attorney for Officer Christopher Burbank. “I think they were wanting something and perhaps were from the state, in my opinion, were misled a little bit about the strength of the state’s case.”
“It’s just such a sigh of relief to know the 12 people who actually heard the evidence said they are not guilty, and they’re not guilty of anything,” said Casey Arbenz, attorney for Officer Matthew Collins.
The mayor of the city of Tacoma went on record just after Ellis died, calling for the officers to be fired and prosecuted to full the extent of the law.
She expressed her opinion after the verdicts were read.
“At that moment, my heart was breaking... while the jury rendered its verdict today, the city’s internal processes continue, Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards said.
Those processes include administrative investigations into the officers’ conduct.
As for the trial, in a rare public statement, the judge also gave his reaction, praising the jury.
“They were working hard to try to get the information to make the best decision they could make. They took it seriously, and they should have, because it’s a very serious matter and it’s something of great importance to our community,” Pierce County Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff said.
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