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Tacoma delays posting updates on Manuel Ellis investigation

The delay adds to the frustration some in Tacoma say they’ve been holding onto for years.

TACOMA, Wash. — The City of Tacoma tweeted that new updates to the Manuel Ellis murder investigation would be announced during a public study session Tuesday. 

But when the time came, council members stated that updates with the investigation will be put on hold for the next few weeks so incoming Police Chief Avery Moore can be brought up to speed.

The council didn’t provide an exact date of when the updates will resume.

“This is taking too long,” said Jamika Scott, organizer for the Tacoma Action Collective.

Ellis died while in police custody on March 3, 2020. The Pierce County Medical Examiner ruled Ellis’ death a homicide. Video of the incident emerged on social media that prompted calls for an independent investigation, leading to the state Attorney General’s office charging officers Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins with second-degree murder, and officer Timothy Rankine with first degree manslaughter.

Community organizers and activists have demanded officers Rankine, Burbank, and Collins to be fired from the Tacoma Police Department since March 2020. Yet, they remain on the city’s payroll, and all three officers are out on bail while they await trial.

Scott says the city’s continued inaction to address this speaks volumes.

“The city manager already had all the power to fire these officers. Interim Chief Mike Ake had the power to fire these officers. The city council has the power to vote to compel the city manager to do this,” Scott said. “So, at this point, because they haven’t done anything, I don’t know what they can do because they haven’t shown us that they’re willing to do anything.”

While Tacoma waits for a decision, Scott says that time just continues to break down trust for the Tacoma Police Department and the city’s leadership.

“A lot of us in this community have no faith in the people who have been chosen to lead us,” Scott said. “There has been an extreme trauma that’s been experienced by this community, and nobody is doing anything to help the community heal from it.”

City Manager Elizabeth Pauli has not responded to a request for comment.