Tacoma Officers Cleared in Black Man’s Death Will Get $500,000 Each to Resign

Three Tacoma police officers who were acquitted in the death of Manuel Ellis, a Black man who died in police custody in 2020 after pleading that he could not breathe, will each receive $500,000 for resigning from the Tacoma Police Department, according to documents released by the city on Tuesday.

Two of the officers, Christopher Burbank, 38 and Matthew Collins, 40, both white, were acquitted last month on charges of second-degree murder. The third officer, Timothy Rankine, 35, who is Asian, was acquitted of first-degree manslaughter. Prosecutors had accused the men of punching, squeezing and placing a hood over Mr. Ellis, 33, known as Manny, who was unarmed on the night of his arrest and, according to audio recordings, told the police that he could not breathe.

On Tuesday, Chief Avery L. Moore of the Tacoma Police Department said in a statement that the three officers had “voluntarily agreed” to resign from their positions. Though Mr. Collins violated the department’s 2020 policy on courtesy, all three men had otherwise been cleared of departmental violations based on policies at the time, Chief Moore said.

A spokeswoman for the city said Tuesday that the men had already resigned.

The “Use of Force” policy in place at the time of Mr. Ellis’s arrest “failed to serve the best interests of the police department or the community,” Chief Moore added, and has since been revised as part of an overhaul of more than two dozen police policies. “I acknowledge the detrimental impact of policing on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, extending both a personal and collective apology,” he said.

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