TACOMA, Wash. — A family member of Manuel Ellis testified for the first time in the trial where three Tacoma police officers are charged in his death.
Opening statements for the trial took place on Tuesday, with lawyers on both sides presenting conflicting narratives around the events leading up to Ellis’ death in March 2020.
The state claims the officers tasered, tackled and repeatedly punched Ellis, as he told officers he couldn’t breathe, leading to his death. However, defense attorneys claim Ellis had methamphetamine in his system, which caused him to die.
The medical examiner had ruled Ellis’ death a homicide, stating that he had died of hypoxia from being physically restrained.
The second day focused on three cell phone videos and a doorbell camera video that captured different parts of the final moments of his life that night, with testimony from Grant Fredericks, a forensic analyst, breaking down each footage.
THIRD DAY OF TESTIMONY:
On the third day of testimony, Fredericks showed attorneys on both sides a timeline of the footage captured in the case.
He also confirmed he looked at the metadata, file structure and integrity of the doorbell camera footage, confirming that it was not edited or manipulated.
“That upload process is automated. In order for that to be uploaded, it has to have a certain file structure. You wouldn’t be able to then, one wouldn’t be able to remove it, edit it and put it back together, and then have the system recognize that file and upload it,” he said.
Fredericks told the attorneys that he could not confirm what triggered the doorbell camera to turn on. He also added that it’s common for doorbell cameras to not pick up every moment that occurs.
“I have a doorbell camera and it just picks up a limited amount of information,” he said.
Hours later, a little after 2 p.m., Manuel Ellis’ little sister took the stand.
Monet Carter-Mixon, 32, said that she and her brother grew up in central Tacoma, and in Lakewood for a brief period.
She said her older brother was her best friend.
“When I needed him, he was always there for me. We were really really close.” She added, “He babysat my kids for me. At the time I had five kids, and I was a single mom. He helped me a lot with my kids. He watched them when I had to work overnight shifts, or if I needed childcare for them, or if they were sick and couldn’t go to school.”
Carter-Mixon said her brother was diagnosed with depression and schizophrenia. They would often talk about their mental health with each other, she added.
From 2013 to 2020, Carter-Mixon said she had opened up her home to Ellis to help support him, but he eventually moved into a sober home on Pacific Avenue to help with his recovery journey.
He later transitioned to a second sober home within the program, typically reserved for people who are making positive progress, she later added.
She said the second home was about 11 minutes away from the scene where he died.
Ellis would often walk to the store to purchase his favorite snacks and candy, including 7-Eleven, and would avoid driving to stay safe, she shared.
She said she would talk with her brother almost every day, whether it was through text messages, phone calls or video chats.
Carter-Mixon said she last spoke with her brother on Feb. 28.
She received a missed video chat from her brother on March 3 around 9:30 p.m., before his death, she added.
In June 2020, Carter-Mixon said a woman named Sarah later reached out to her on Facebook and provided two cell phone videos, capturing the final moments of her brother’s life.
An attorney at the trial showed photos of Sarah’s screenshots, capturing the videos’ time stamp. Both showed the date of March 3 at about 11:20 p.m.
Carter-Mixon said she and her lawyer later met with Sarah on June 4th to interview her on camera. She said they did not share facts about the case outside of the video recording.
Manuel Ellis’ mother is expected to testify next week.
The family’s attorney, loved ones and friends spoke at a press conference after the trial at Manny Ellis’ memorial on South 11th Street.
Manuel Ellis’ mother was present at the press conference, however, she did not speak on camera.
Stay with KIRO 7 News for the latest updates as we continue to cover the trial.
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