Manny Ellis death trial reaches halfway point as defense calls first witnesses

The trial of three Tacoma Police officers charged with killing Manny Ellis is now in its second half, as the defense called their first witnesses to the stand on Monday.

Manny Ellis died in Tacoma Police custody in March 2020.

Tacoma Police Officer Matthew Collins and Officer Christopher Burbank, as well as Officer Timothy Rankine are on trial for the death of Ellis.

Collins and Burbank are both charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, and Rankine is charged with manslaughter.

During the defense's statements, attorneys worked to create a narrative for the jury, that showed officers as protectors of the community, and Ellis as a repeat offender.

However, the judge reminded the jury to rely only on facts, instead of emotion.

"There was a comment made by Mr. Arbenz in his closing argument…[indiscernible]…his last thing he said to you, about being good to Mr. Collins because Mr. Collins has been good to the community. And I want you to disregard that comment," said Pierce County Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff. "You’re deciding the case based on the evidence, based on the facts you find approved by, based upon the evidence presented in court."

RELATED: Defense asks judge to throw out case after prosecution's last witness in Manny Ellis death trial

Following his notice to the jury, the defense highlighted an incident involving Manny Ellis and law enforcement about six months before the deadly encounter in March 2020.

In Sept. 2019, Ellis reportedly attempted to rob a business. A former employee from the business, several members of law enforcement, and a former EMT, all with direct knowledge of the incident, gave testimony about what happened.

During the testimony, the members of law enforcement said Ellis exhibited superhuman strength that night and refused to listen to direct orders. He was tasered several times and was also reportedly on meth, they said.

An EMT from the hospital reported Ellis remained combative while he treated his wounds.

The prosecution focused on the fact that Ellis did not die in the Sept. 2019 incident, despite similarities to the March 2020 incident.

The judge shut down the prosecution’s comparison through an objection. 

Four different witnesses for the defense took the stand today. As many as 150 witnesses may be called by the officers’ attorneys.