ACLU of Washington statement on verdict in Tacoma police officers’ trial

News Release: 
Thursday, December 21, 2023
TACOMA — On Thursday, a jury acquitted the three Tacoma Police officers accused of killing Manuel Ellis in a 2020 encounter. Enoka Herat, policing and immigration policy program director at the ACLU of Washington, had the following statement:

“Today’s verdict is devastating and does not result in the accountability the community has demanded and deserves. While no verdict would provide true justice for Manny — as that would mean never being killed in the first place — officers cannot be allowed to act with impunity and kill community members without consequence. Our thoughts are with Manny’s family who have had to be fierce advocates in the face of a system that was not investing time on investigating itself.

Manny would be alive today if it were not for the actions of officers who refused to act with a duty of reasonable care, but instead chose to beat, tase, handcuff, hogtie, and hold him down with a spit hood over his head despite his cries that he could not breathe. Accountability requires examining facts and not relying on rhetoric, yet this case is a clear example of the power of police narratives in the face of contradictory evidence and eyewitnesses. No one should fear being killed in an encounter with police, and no one should ever be subjected to the type of abuse officers inflicted on Manny Ellis during that encounter.

We will continue to work alongside families to push for policies that reduce police violence, unnecessary police contacts, and hold officers accountable when they violate people’s rights and harm community members.”
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