Ex-Tacoma Officer Files $47M Defamation Lawsuit Against City and Washington State

A multimillion-dollar lawsuit has been launched against municipal and state officials by one of the three Washington State police officers cleared of all charges in relation to the 2020 murder of Manny Ellis. The officer claims he was wrongly accused of both criminal and racist misbehavior.

Ellis, a black man who was detained, assaulted, and left facedown on a sidewalk while he gasped for air, passed away in Tacoma police custody in March 2020.

Ellis pleaded that he could not breathe, but former Tacoma police officer Timothy Rankine, an Asian American, testified last year during a trial that he held Ellis down on his back.

The police’ lawyers contended that Ellis’s death was not caused by the officers’ actions but rather by a fatal dose of methamphetamine and a cardiac ailment. But the Pierce County Medical Examiner declared the death to be a homicide, citing oxygen deprivation during physical restraint as the cause.

First-on Tacoma Police Officers Matthew Collins and Christopher Burbank were charged with first-degree manslaughter and second-degree murder.

Even though Rankine was found not guilty of first-degree manslaughter back in December, he feels that the trial damaged his reputation.

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A video captured by a doorbell surveillance camera showed Ellis in a surrendering stance with his hands raised, as Collins put an arm around his neck from behind and Burbank fired a Taser at Ellis’s chest.

The former cop claims that threats against his family resulted from his prosecution, which was motivated by politics. Rankine and his spouse are requesting a settlement of $47 million.

This happened after Rankine and the other officers consented to leave the department in January in exchange for $500,000 apiece, which, according to Rankine’s lawyer, “barely” made up for the losses he had suffered.

The Department of Justice is still looking into whether Ellis’ killing violated any civil rights, while state authorities are looking into whether to cancel the officers’ certifications.

Ellis’ family is currently suing the city and the officers in a federal court case. Ellis’s death was initially looked into by Pierce County, with whom the family had already reached a $4 million settlement.

Reference

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