‘More awkward than any trial I’ve ever had,’ says judge to attorneys in Manny Ellis trial

Wednesday, the judge in the Manny Ellis homicide trial said aspects of the attorneys' proceedings are possibly the most awkward he has ever experienced.

Manny Ellis died in Tacoma Police custody in March 2020.

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

Over the last three weeks of hearings, the jurors have been asked to leave the courtroom several times, so that attorneys and the judge can debate the relevance of evidence.

On Wednesday during a similar situation, the judge addressed both the prosecution and the defense.

"This whole way of doing business, has been more awkward for me this trial, than any other trial I’ve ever had…ever had," said Judge Bryan Chushcoff.

However, the judge's statement did not have any direct impact on the hearing, and no decisions or changes came from his comment.

During the actual testimony of the hearing, two different witnesses took the stand to recount what they say happened that night.

"I remember Manny being on the ground, and one of the officers was behind Manny and was on his back, I believe, with his knee, and the other officer was in front of him, I believe trying to get his handcuffs while assisting the other officer with keeping Manny down," said Seith Cowden.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Audio expert testifies on Manny Ellis' last known words in homicide trial

Cowden was a pizza delivery man who drove past the incident and recorded parts of the encounter on his phone.

However, one of the biggest questions surrounding this case is what happened before the video recordings started. Cowden provided answers on what he could remember.

Both prosecution and defense asked Cowden if an issue he has with his right eye affected his ability to see.

"I was just born with a bad eye, but my left eye can see perfectly; don’t need glasses or any corrective lens, or anything like that. I just can’t see out of the right side," he said.

Eyesight was also a focal point of the other witnesses who took the stand on Wednesday.

"I was supposed to be wearing glass at that time, but I did not currently own a pair at that time," said Aiyana Mallang.

Mallang lives where the incident happened. Her doorbell camera captured video of the encounter. Mallang said despite not having glasses, she could still see and hear what was happening outside her home.

"I could hear the man pleading with the officer to stop, and then I heard a taser arc buzz," she said.

Unlike the other witnesses who drove away from the scene at some point in the night, Mallang lives where the incident happened.

Her testimony went further into what happened that night.

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"I saw two more officers run from the corner, diagonal of the scene, over to where the man and the officer were on the ground," she said. "30 to 45 seconds after that, there was a much larger police response, and my view was mostly obstructed by police vehicles, police lights, and police personnel making a kind of circle wall around the scene with their bodies."

Mallang said she recorded the officers on her cell phone, as well.

During the cross-examination of Cowden, the defense asked about his phone. Cowden said at some point after recording the incident, his phone stopped working correctly.

This is the second time a witness who recorded the incident reported that their phone broke after the event.

Mallang remained on the stand for the remainder of the hearing.

Officials with the Attorney General’s Office report the first paramedic on scene and a cardiology expert are the next expected witnesses.