Jury deliberations in Manuel Ellis’ death resume after another delay

Illness in the jury pool is the cause.

Illness has wreaked havoc on jury deliberations in the case of Manuel Ellis.

Three Washington state officers have been charged in the March 2020 death of Ellis, a 33-year-old Black man. Police officers, according to witness accounts, tackled, punched, and used a stun gun on Ellis. His death came two months before George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis.

On Monday, a juror couldn’t deliberate due to a family emergency. The television station King5 in Seattle reported the family member had taken ill, and an alternate filled in.

Manuel Ellis is shown in a family photo. (Photo credit: The News Tribune)

Then, on Tuesday, another juror came down with COVID-19, forcing yet another temporary postponement as the court called in another alternate, according to King5.

The jury deliberated for a day and a half last week but needed to start over to bring the new jurors up to speed, according to the Seattle Times. The judge in the case, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff, told lawyers that deliberations could be pushed into January if more jurors contracted COVID-19.

The court has already announced it will recess at the end of the day Friday and through Christmas week.

Three officers, two white and one Asian American, have been charged in Ellis’ death. 

A woman walks past a mural honoring Manuel “Manny” Ellis, May 27, 2021, in the Hilltop neighborhood of Tacoma, Wash., south of Seattle. Ellis died on March 3, 2020, after he was restrained by police officers. (Photo by Ted S. Warren, AP, File)

Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins face second-degree murder charges, while Timothy Rankine, who is Asian American, has been charged with first-degree manslaughter charges. They have all pleaded not guilty.

Ellis had purchased a box of donuts when witnesses, who recorded the encounter, said Burbank and Collins jumped out of their patrol car, tackled, and beat him, the Associated Press reported. A video doorbell captured Ellis saying, “Can’t breathe,” AP reported.

Burbank and Collins, via the AP report, claim Ellis was trying to get into a car that belonged to a stranger and attacked the cops when they confronted him. The officers had to use force because Ellis was resisting and trying to flee, their attorney said.

Raskine allegedly pressed Ellis into the ground by kneeling on his back, King5 reported.

Ellis died of hypoxia due to restraint, with significant contributing factors of meth intoxication and an enlarged heart, the Pierce County Medical Examiner told the jury, King5 reported.

Never miss a beat: Get our daily stories straight to your inbox with theGrio’s newsletter.

Recommended Stories