Two police officers cleared to return to work following Manuel Ellis investigation

TACOMA, Wash. — Two Tacoma police officers will be returning to work after they were exonerated of any policy violations related to their involvement in the Manuel Ellis case.

A review of the department’s internal affairs investigation led Interim Chief Mike Ake to his decision that officers Armando Farinas and Masiyh Ford did not violate department policy.

Ellis, a 33-year-old Black man, died on March 3, 2020, after an on-camera confrontation with Tacoma police officers.

Officer Farinas was investigated for policy violations related to him placing a spit hood — a loose fabric sack — over Ellis’ head. At the time of the incident, officers at the scene, including Farinas, were concerned about Ellis spitting near officers. Farinas volunteered to retrieve the spit hood and place it on Ellis, but had no other contact with him.

Officer Gord was investigated for possible violations of use of force policy. The investigation found that Ford took hold of Ellis’ legs to allow him to be detained in a restraint. Witnesses confirmed that once Ellis was detained, Ford spoke with Ellis in an effort to calm him down and let him know that medical aid was on the way.

Gord was the first officer to alert arriving medical personnel that Ellis’ condition was deteriorating. He also assisted in rolling Ellis onto his side in a recovery position after Ellis said he was unable to breathe.

The investigation found both officers’ actions to be reasonable and appropriate under the circumstances.

“For many, even far beyond the borders of our City, these administrative decisions have been preceded by a great deal of uncertainty and distress,” said Tacoma mayor Victoria Woodards in a statement. “These outcomes will no doubt be received with a wide range of deep emotions. As our community reacts to this news, I remind you today that we are stronger together. That is true today, and it will be true in the case of future decisions related to the death of Manual Ellis.”

Tacoma police will immediately begin the process of returning the officers to work. Both officers will have to complete several weeks of training prior to returning to any patrol duties.