May 28 (UPI) — Three police officers in Washington state were charged in the killing of Manuel Ellis, a Black man who died while being handcuffed and restrained last year.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed second-degree murder charges against officers Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins and a first-degree manslaughter charge against officer Timothy Rankine.
Warrants have been issued for all three officers’ arrests.
The attorney general’s office said it was the first time it has criminally charged police officers for the unlawful use of deadly force and the second time homicide charges have been filed since Washington passed a law in November 2018 to remove the standard of “malice” from the state’s deadly force statute.
Ellis, 33, was killed after police stopped him as he walked home. Authorities said he was harassing women at an intersection.
Probable cause documents state that officers slammed Ellis into the ground unprovoked as they punched and hogtied him as he repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.”
Witnesses saw Ellis appearing to have a “casual conversation” with Burbank and Collins in their patrol car at a red light showing “no signs of aggression,” according to the documents.
As Ellis walked away, witnesses said Burbank “abruptly swung open the passenger door of the car, striking Ellis from behind and knocking him to his knees.”
Collins is accused of slamming Ellis to the ground, while Burbank fired his stun gun at him and both officers are accused of pinning him to the ground.
Rankine is accused of “applying pressure to Ellis’s back” with both of his knees while Ellis was restrained.
The document states that officers eventually called the fire department for assistance but did not state that Ellis had said he could not breathe. Officers also requested an ambulance but did not alert the dispatcher the fire department should run “priority” in bringing medical aid.
Ellis was unresponsive when the fire department arrived and was pronounced dead at the scene.