TACOMA, Wash. — The family of Manuel Ellis, whose death while in the custody of Tacoma police is mired in a lengthy investigation, spoke out saying it’s taking too long to get answers.
“My son is right here, died, killed, murdered,” said Ellis’ mother, Marcia Carter.
Ellis died March 3rd. A Pierce County Medical Examiner’s report called the death a homicide while also stating Ellis died “as a result of physical restraint with contributing conditions of methamphetamine intoxication and a dilated heart.”
His family held a news conference outside Tacoma City Hall on what would have been Ellis’ 34th birthday.
“I’m pissed off,” said Carter. I’m mad as hell that my son can’t be celebrating with us today.”
Ellis’ brother also spoke at today’s news conference, saying the family feels his loss every day.
“If this was anybody else they’d be locked up. And we’re tired of talking about it, tired of these conferences. We’re tired of it,” said Matthew Ellis.
Officers Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins, Masyih Ford and Timothy Rankin have been placed on administrative leave after an initial investigation by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department was rejected by the county’s prosecutor, when it was determined a deputy had also been present at the scene that night. An investigation by the Washington State Patrol and State Attorney General’s office is still underway.
“I know that based on this amount of information that if these were any other people they already would have been charged,” said James Bible, an attorney representing the Ellis family.
Bible filed a claim for $30 million against the city of Tacoma on Friday. He said his investigation has uncovered new information including what he claims is a picture of Masyih Ford’s badge and gun, with a Thin Blue Line flag and Punisher logo modeled after a comic book vigilante. Bible also released a text message he says was sent to at least one of the officers in early June after they were taken off duty a second time because of the case, reading, “Just wanted to reach out and let you guys know the entire second floor backs you. You guys are studs and did nothing wrong.”
“Essentially some officers that have been brutal to human beings in the city of Tacoma have turned around and said to these four officers, ‘welcome to the club’,” Bible said.
Tacoma Police have said they will not comment on the case while the state’s investigation is underway. An attorney representing one of the four officers told KIRO 7 he had not seen the family’s claims and could not comment.
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