TACOMA, Wash. - One legal expert believes it could take days or weeks before the jury in the Manuel ‘Manny’ Ellis case reaches a verdict.
After more than two months of court hearings and more than three years since the deadly encounter between Ellis and Tacoma Police, the community now waits for the jury’s decision.
Ellis died while in Tacoma Police custody in March 2020.
Tacoma Officers Matthew Collins and Christopher Burbank, first on scene, are charged with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter.
Officer Timothy Rankine, a part of the second unit on scene, is charged with first-degree manslaughter.
The jury began its deliberations Thursday.
"Jurors take their oath incredibly seriously. This is going to take time. You have 12 different personalities locked in a room together, all day. And they are going to argue, fight a little, some might even cry. It’s going to take them days, maybe weeks and I think there is a high likelihood they are going to come back hung, and I think the first time that happens the judge is going to say go back and try harder," said Mark Lindquist, a local legal expert.
He says this has been a long trial, with an irregular amount of hostility in the courtroom. With dozens of witnesses and testimonies, Lindquist says the jury has a tough job ahead of them.
"As to the murder charges, the evidence is likely not strong enough for a conviction," he said.
For community members who fought for years to bring attention to Ellis’ case, they hope some sort of change comes out of this incident.
"Whether these officers are found guilty or not, I just want something different to happen so what happened here never has to happen again," said Jamika Scott. Scott is a newly elected Tacoma council member. She is also an organizer with the Tacoma Action Collective.
She says these two months have been difficult for family and friends of Ellis.
"I wish that there were a lot of ways in which it could have gone differently. Just in like, you know, there felt like there was a lack of respect, and a lack of care, and a lack of understanding that Manny is actually a victim here. It felt very much like he was on trial," she said.
FOX 13 News reached out to the Tacoma Police Union for a statement on the case, but they did not respond.