Use-of-force expert in Manny Ellis death trial says officers were not wrong

After more than a week-long delay due to COVID concerns and Thanksgiving, the trial of three Tacoma Police officers accused of killing Manny Ellis is back in session.

The trial is now moving toward its second month of hearings.

Manny Ellis died in Tacoma Police custody in 2020.

Officers Christoper Burbank and Matthew Collins are charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. Officer Timothy Rankine is charged with manslaughter.

On Monday, use-of-force expert Chris Nielsen stated Burbank and Collins did nothing wrong during the 2020 encounter.

"With very little effort, or seemingly little effort, Mr. Ellis was able to pick him up and kind of drive him back and throw him on the ground. And so, now at that point, that’s a pretty—from the officers’ perspective—that’s a pretty frightening occurrence," said Nielsen.

He said the officers' use of force in this situation was necessary.

"You see the officers transitioning between force options, none of which have worked, right? So, now you’re starting to scale up," said Nielsen.

During the prosecution's cross-examination, they focused on Nielsen’s qualifications for making these determinations.

Prosecution: "You’re not published in areas regarding use force?"

Nielsen: "Correct."

Prosecution: "And you also haven’t conducted any research on use of force that’s been published?"

Nielsen: "Also correct."

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The prosecution also questioned if there was any bias, due to Nielsen being a member of local law enforcement.

Prosecution: "You’re also on the lethal force review board for Renton PD."

Nielsen: "That’s correct."

Prosecution: "And those cases all have been shooting cases?"

Nielsen: "Yes."

Prosecution: "And you found in favor of the officer in all of those cases?"

Nielsen: "Yes. In all fairness, there weren’t many, but that’s true."

The defense tells FOX 13 News they plan to bring a toxicologist to the stand following Nielsen’s testimony.

The officers charged in the case are also expected to take the stand. However, the defense has not said when they will call them to testify.