‘I can’t breathe, sir:’ Attorney for family of Manuel Ellis calls for independent investigation

TACOMA, Wash. — The attorney representing the family of Manuel Ellis on Tuesday furthered calls for an independent investigation into the 33-year-old’s death while in Tacoma police custody in March.

James Bible said the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office “continues to ignore the facts and absorb the Tacoma Police Department of any wrongdoing.”

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Bible said there’s a conflict of interest in the Pierce County Sheriff Office’s investigation into the Tacoma Police Department’s handling of the situation.

“We can’t let offending agencies and their friends investigate each other. There must be justice,” Bible said.

Bible said he obtained new Ring camera videos that show what lead up to the moments before Ellis’ death. The videos, Bible said, have been in the hands of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office for about three months.

Bible said the videos show Ellis was not suffering from excited delirium, as officials first suggested at the time of his death.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office later determined Ellis died of respiratory arrest due to hypoxia due to physical restraint.

Hypoxia is a deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching body tissues.

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The Medical Examiner ruled Ellis’ death a homicide, which legally means he was killed by another person.

“Without question they have sought to hide this information from the public and is exactly why we need state intervention,” Bible said.

He then called on Gov. Jay Inslee to launch an independent investigation into Ellis’ death.

“We need the state, we need the governor, we need the attorney general to authentically care about this,” Bible said.

Watch the full news conference below:

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