‘People threaten my spouse and my family’; Responding officer takes stand in Ellis trial

Tacoma Police Officer Masyih Ford talked about trying to subdue Manny Ellis during the deadly March 2020 incident.

Ford and his partner Officer Timothy Rankine were the second unit to respond to the scene.

Ford was cleared of any wrongdoing and never charged for his involvement in the incident, but Rankine was charged with manslaughter. Officers Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins were charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.

"It was an incredibly traumatic event that I think about every single day," said Ford.

Ford testified that despite not being charged, he has dealt with harassment for years.

"I’ve had people show up at my house, threaten my spouse and my family," he said. 

Ford said he has been called a racist and a murderer for his involvement in the encounter with Ellis. 

He said before the incident with Ellis in March 2020, he already had a strong connection to the family.

"She was a mentor for me," he said.

Ford testified that Marcia Carter-Patterson, Ellis’ mom, was Ford’s counselor in high school. 

Ford testified he did not realize that connection the night he responded to the March 2020 encounter between Ellis and Tacoma Police. Ford said over the last few years, he has had to remain silent, until now.

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"I didn’t see him use any unreasonable tactics," said Ford. 

Ford testified he and Rankine arrived to a hectic scene and went to help the other officers. He said he noticed something was off about Ellis.

"What in the world happened before we got here, and what’s going on with Mr. Ellis," he said. "I think this might be excited delirium."

Ford said he heard Ellis say he couldn’t breathe, and he described looking him directly in the eyes and trying to assure him that help was on the way.

During the state’s cross-examination, they focused on why Ellis remained in the prone position, despite stating he could not breathe.