Washington AG to announce whether officers will be charged in death of Manuel Ellis

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office will announce a charging decision in its review of the death of Manuel ‘Manny’ Ellis on May 27. 

Ellis, a 33-year-old Black man, was killed in Tacoma police custody March of 2020.  Ellis was put into a chokehold and restrained by several officers while in police custody on a residential street in Tacoma. An investigation later determined he told officers at the scene that he couldn't breathe.

As The Tacoma News-Tribune first reported, the Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office noted intoxication from methamphetamine and an existing heart condition as contributing factors, but Ellis' death was ultimately ruled a homicide - respiratory arrest due to hypoxia caused by physical restraint. 

Washington State Patrol wrapped its independent investigation into Ellis' death and the Tacoma Police Department late last year.

Earlier this month, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed one of the nation’s most ambitious packages of police accountability legislation, prompted by last year’s outcry for racial justice following the deaths of George Floyd, Ellis and other Black people at the hands of police.

The dozen bills Inslee signed include outright bans on police use of chokeholds, neck restraints and no-knock warrants such as the one that helped lead to Breonna Taylor’s killing in Louisville, Kentucky.

RELATED: Tacoma is making changes to how its police department operates

The city of Tacoma is also working to repair its relationship with the community after the fallout from Ellis' death and an instance where a police officer was filmed driving through a crowd.

In March, the city released dozens of recommendations that a third-party company provided on how to reform the police department. 

Earlier this month, the city released its plan for moving forward with those changes.In total, there are 64 recommendations, including clearer policies on when officer use of force is justified and not. 

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