3 WA cops charged with killing Black man Manuel Ellis added to list of law enforcement with credibility issues

A spokesperson for the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said the office this month added the three Tacoma police officers charged in the March 2020 killing of Manuel Ellis to a list of law enforcement with credibility issues.

The addition of Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins and Timothy Rankine to the “potential impeachment disclosure” list, or Brady List, includes the charging documents filed by the state Attorney General’s Office in 2021, which cite video and witness accounts of the officers beating Ellis before his death, The News Tribune reported.

The documents will be provided to defense attorneys if those officers are used as a witness in a criminal trial.

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Washington Coalition for Police Accountability spokesperson Leslie Cushman said a stigma exists about being labeled a “Brady officer,” which references a 1963 Supreme Court decision that says prosecutors can’t withhold material evidence from defendants.

“They can keep on working and they still get promotions, but they are not reliable in court,” Cushman said.

Community members attend a vigil on June 3, 2020, at the Washington intersection where Manuel Ellis, a 33-year-old Black man, died in Tacoma Police custody on March 3.
(JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

Burbank and Collins have pleaded not guilty to murder and manslaughter. Rankine has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter. All three are scheduled to face trial in January. The officers remain on paid leave.

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The Washington State Patrol took over the investigation into the incident following the revelation that a Pierce County deputy had helped restrain Ellis. The state Attorney General’s Office charged the officers.

A spokesperson for the Tacoma Police Department did not respond to multiple requests from the newspaper for comment.