Tacoma police attempted to arrest Manuel Ellis on the night of March 3 after agents saw him “attempt to open the doors of the cars of the occupied vehicles,” according to a press release from the city’s police department.
Officers said there was a physical altercation and Ellis had to be physically detained because he was “combative”, the statement said. Police said agents asked for medical assistance when they saw he needed help, but Ellis died on the scene.
The audio recording, acquired from the Broadcastify website, provides further details on the fatal accident. Officers asking for hobbies – a kind of leg restraint – are heard around 11:26 pm About 50 seconds later, while an officer forwards a message to the dispatcher, a male voice can be heard in the background exclaiming: “I can’t to breathe”.
Minutes later, an officer is heard calling for an ambulance.
“They are absolutely sure that this is their brother and their son,” family lawyer James Bible told CNN.
“This family has listened to her over and over again in excruciating fashion,” he added.
CNN contacted the spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office while the agency was investigating the matter, but did not immediately get an answer. The sheriff’s investigators confirmed the registration to the CNN KIRO subsidiary and said there is also a video of the incident recorded as evidence.
“When he said he couldn’t breathe, they pulled him on his side and he was breathing and talking,” Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer told KIRO.
The four police officers were not charged but were placed on administrative leave.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a press release Friday evening that the state will conduct an independent review of Ellis’ death while the Pierce County Sheriff will conclude his investigation. The review does not prematurely question the results of the investigation, Inslee said, but intends to provide confidence in the results.
“We know that Manuel Ellis was one of too many blacks who died in police custody in America, also here in Washington state. The Washingtonians deserve every guarantee that the investigation and prosecution decisions relating to the police shootings and death custody is handled urgently, independently and committed to justice. “
Two videos published
Both videos of the alleged alteration are less than a minute and have been posted on Twitter. A video appears to show officers hitting Ellis while lying on the ground. A second video seems to show them as they hold Ellis on the ground and tell him to get his hands behind his back.
The videos were posted on the page of a group of local activists, Tacoma Action Collective, and were shot by Sara McDowell, a local resident who witnessed the arrest.
It is unclear whether the video recordings were taken before or after the cry “I can’t breathe” was transmitted through the dispatcher’s audio.
After the videos were released on Friday, Troyer stated that the sheriff’s department was investigating the matter and did not comment.
“We’re not commenting on why we don’t have it, it’s not ours,” he said. “As much as I wish, we could all see the whole image and we could let the person in and present a part of the case, it would be great, but nothing of the sort happened.”
Mayor of Tacoma and police union clash over death
Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards calls for four policemen to be fired and tried after Ellis’ death. Woodards made the comments after the video of Ellis’ arrest was released.
“Right now, right now, based on the information I know today, the actions of the officers we saw tonight in this video only confirmed that Manuel Ellis’ death was a murder,” Woodards said in a conference Thursday. printing. “I’m asking you – no, I’m telling you that I’m going to ask for several things, and the officers who committed this crime should be fired and prosecuted to the maximum extent permitted by law.”
There were protests in Tacoma over Ellis’ death.
Ellis died of respiratory arrest from hypoxia caused by physical restraint, the Pierce County medical examiner’s office established. Hypoxia is a condition in which the body is deprived of an adequate supply of oxygen.
Ellis was black; two of the four officers in his case are white, one is black and one is Asian, according to police.
The Tacoma police union wrote Thursday in a statement that the mayor issued a judgment on the four officers “without facts, without investigation, without due process and with less than a minute of short blurred and partial Twitter videos in hand. “.
“He called them criminals. He asked for their prosecution. He asked for their termination from the employment relationship. And he asked for all these things without an ounce of evidence to support his words beyond the misplaced anger,” reads the statement. of the union.
The union also faced Floyd’s death, saying it was wrong and “repulsive for the badge” and humanity.
“But you understand; Tacoma is not Minneapolis. The accident that involved Mr. Ellis here in Tacoma was not the same as the accident that involved Mr. Floyd,” reads the note. “This is not the time to sacrifice public employees dedicated to the altar of public sentiment.”
CNN’s Carma Hassan contributed to this report.