A new video showing Manuel Ellis’ fatal encounter with Tacoma police was released Monday, giving a more complete look at how the first two officers on scene restrained Ellis.
The video was taken by a witness stopped at the intersection of 96th Street South and Ainsworth Avenue South.
The 53-second clip does not include audio but offers the clearest view yet of the struggle March 3.
It opens with one officer grabbing Ellis, 33, from behind and putting his arm around his neck.
Both Ellis and the officer were already on the ground. The second officer was standing above them.
One officer pulled Ellis backward as the officer standing up used a Taser on Ellis.
Ellis’ arms flew into the air and he and the officer trying to restrain him fell flat.
After about 12 seconds, the officer holding Ellis by the neck let go and rolled Ellis onto his stomach.
Ellis appeared to struggle, with his legs kicking out.
One officer placed a knee on Ellis as police moved to subdue him.
It was not clear whether the officer placed his knee on Ellis’ back, neck or head.
“This video is critical because it shows that Manny Ellis was compliant, that he was simply trying to survive, because he authentically couldn’t breathe because officers wrapped their arms around his neck and tased him multiple times,” James Bible, the attorney representing Ellis’ family, told The (Tacoma) News Tribune.
Toward the end of the video, two vehicles drive through the scene before the witness also left.
The two cars in the video were of other witnesses who have come forward with recordings of Ellis’ struggle with officers.
In another video, Sara McDowell begins recording the encounter sooner.
It showed Ellis and both officers struggling — all three standing upright — and police hitting Ellis before he falls to the ground.
McDowell can be heard yelling, “Hey! Stop! Oh my God, stop hitting him. Just arrest him. Just arrest him. Oh my God, that looks so scary.”
A second video she took as she drove away showed Ellis subdued as officers told him to put his hands behind his back.
It was the release of those recordings that prompted Mayor Victoria Woodards to call for the officers to be fired and prosecuted.
Tacoma police identified the four officers involved in restraining Ellis as Christopher Burbank, 34; Matthew Collins, 37; Masyih Ford, 28; and Timothy Rankine, 31. They are on administrative leave.
Burbank and Collins are white. Ford is black. Rankine is Asian.
The two officers in the video appeared to be white, which would identify them as Burbank and Collins.
Officials have not yet said who is pictured in the videos, or what role each officer played in restraining Ellis.
Last week, the Ellis family’s attorney released a nearly nine-minute Ring doorbell security camera across the street from where Ellis died.
Although it was too dark to see what was happening, that video captured Ellis saying, “I can’t breathe, sir, I can’t breathe.”
His words echoed that of George Floyd, a Black man who died May 25 in Minneapolis after a white police officer placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Both deaths have prompted widespread protests against police brutality and racial inequality.
Ellis’ death was a homicide from oxygen deprivation due to physical restraint, according to the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Contributing factors to Ellis’ death were heart disease and a possibly fatal amount of methamphetamine in his system, according to autopsy findings.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, which initially investigated the incident, said Ellis pounded on a patrol car and attacked one of the officers.
Police called for an ambulance less than a minute after Ellis was in custody, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Paramedics performed life-saving measures for nearly 40 minutes, sheriff’s investigators said.
Once state officials and Prosecuting Attorney Mary Robnett learned a sheriff’s deputy also was on scene while Ellis was restrained, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee demanded a new, independent investigation that did not involve Pierce County law enforcement.
An investigating agency has yet to be named.
Bible, the Ellis family’s attorney, said he plans to turn the videos and witnesses over to the new investigators once they are named.
Police union representatives and the officers’ attorneys have repeatedly asked the public not to rush to judgment, and wait to hear the final outcome of the investigation.
“… on behalf of the officers that we present, all the first responders involved, and on behalf of the people of Tacoma, we again ask that everyone work to avoid pre-judging this matter, especially with only partial facts,” attorneys Michael Staropoli and Steven Myers, who represent the four officers, said in a statement.