Washington State Patrol’s Independent Investigation Team turned the case over to the state Attorney General’s Office in November. After a six-month review, prosecutors charged Tacoma officers Matthew J. Collins and Christopher Shane Burbank with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter. Timothy Eugene Rankine was charged with first-degree manslaughter.
The team that investigated the death of Manuel Ellis in Tacoma is reconvening to analyze a cell phone found at the scene.
All three officers were released on bail in late May.
Although charges were filed, a spokeswoman for the AG’s Office said the investigation is ongoing.
This week, the AG’s Office asked investigators to “conduct forensic investigative efforts narrowly focused on a cell phone found at the scene where Manuel Ellis died,” Sgt. Darren Wright said in a news release.
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Officials have not said who the cell phone belonged to or why it hasn’t already been analyzed.
Attorney James Bible, who represents Ellis’ family, said the investigation is ongoing and analyzing evidence is expected in homicide cases.
“Ultimately, the videos, the independent witness and all of those things that led to the initial charging decision are still what rule the day, but in these kinds of circumstances they decide to make sure they have everything possible as they move forward,” Bible said. Ellis died March 3, 2020, as police restrained him at the intersection of 96th Street South and Ainsworth Avenue South. Video captured him telling officers, “Can’t breathe, sir, can’t breathe,” shortly before he lost consciousness.
He died from lack of oxygen and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office. Tacoma police officers Christopher Burbank, left, Matthew Collins and Timothy Rankine appear via video for arraignment in Pierce County Superior Court in Tacoma, Washington, on Friday, May 28, 2021. The officers were charged by the state’s attorney general for their role in the death of Manuel Ellis.
Stacia Glenn covers crime and breaking news in Pierce County. She started with The News Tribune in 2010. Before that, she spent six years writing about crime in Southern California for another newspaper. Alex Lopez Leon was convicted Friday in the 2018 deaths of 22-year-old Wilberth Lopez Alcala and 19-year-old Adrian Valencia Cuevas
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