TACOMA, Wash. — Witness and expert questioning continued on Wednesday in the trial of three Tacoma Police officers charged with the 2020 death of Manuel Ellis.
We have been covering this trial since the beginning:
- Opening statements were given on October 3.
- Ellis’ sister testified on Oct. 6.
- Ellis’ mother testified on Oct. 9.
- Witnesses testified on Oct. 10.
Attorneys continued questioning Sara McDowell, who took one of the cellphone videos showing the restraint.
On Tuesday, attorneys questioned why she wrote on social media that she would lie on the stand. She claimed it was a typo.
Her testimony was again questioned on Wednesday for her phone being damaged and disabled by incorrect password attempts shortly after the incident.
She also explained why she chose not to go to the police with the video she took, saying she read an online news article that she believed was false.
“I was scared. They’re the ones that did it, and the article was a lie, so it was just all a lie, so I didn’t trust to send it to them. I wanted to find (Ellis’) family and let them do what they thought was best,” McDowell said on the stand.
Also taking the stand was Jacob Atzet, an investigator with the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Lawyers questioned him about his general workflow at the scene, ultimately trying to answer the over-arching question of whether Ellis died from the encounter with officers or because of an existing heart condition and the methamphetamine that the medical examiner said was in his system.
Atzet did not determine Ellis’ cause of death. In 2020, former Pierce County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Clark made the determination that Ellis died from hypoxia due to physical restraint and ruled the death a homicide.
Clark was the ME through the end of 2020 before retiring.
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