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Many Ellis trial, day 2: Meticulous analysis of cell phone video

A frame-by-frame analysis of cell phone video places you in the middle of the confrontation that ended in the death of Manuel Ellis. Three Tacoma police officers are charged with murder or manslaughter in the violent encounter with the unarmed black man in 2020.

Day two of testimony, on Wednesday, centered on three cell phone videos of the final moments in Ellis’s life. Those videos are important to the prosecution’s contention that the officers’ actions led to Ellis’s death.

The defense said the videos don’t show how the fatal encounter began. In fact, the defense contends Manuel Ellis was violent toward them before the cameras were rolling.

Still, the videos’ analysis showed us in meticulous detail something very different.

“It’s pointing to the area of Mr. Ellis’ right hand which is on the ground,” said Grant Fredericks.

The Spokane-based video forensics expert gave a frame-by-frame analysis of the video showing Tacoma police officers Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins. Both had Ellis on the ground.

“He’s been identified to me as Mr. Burbank,” Fredericks testified.

“And on the right, where the individual in the darker colored clothing. Who’s that one been identified as?” asked prosecutor Lori Nicolavo.

“As Mr. Collins,” replied Fredericks.

“And the person on the ground in the yellow sweatshirt?” asked Nicolavo.

“Mr. Ellis,” Fredericks said.

“Can’t breathe, sir,” said prosecutor Kent Liu. “Can’t breathe. Still can’t breathe. Still can’t breathe.”

Just a day ago, we heard dramatic opening statements that reflect very different views of how Manny Ellis died.

The prosecution contends the three police officers, Burbank and Collins, who are white, and Timothy Rankine, who is Asian-American, tasered, tackled, and repeatedly punched the man, causing his death.

The defense contends the entire confrontation was sparked by an aggressive Manny Ellis.

“Mr. Ellis goes up and grabs Mr. Collins and throws him to the ground with superhuman strength,” said Brett Purtzer, Burbank’s attorney. “It’s something these officers have not faced before.”

The prosecution said they expect the sister and mother of Manny Ellis to testify Thursday.