On March 3, a Black man in Tacoma, Washington died while in police custody. In a story that’s become all too common within America, Manuel Ellis called out “I can’t breathe” while in handcuffs and being restrained on the ground by police officers.
According to reports from CBS News, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards have said that they will ensure there is a “full and complete investigation into [Ellis’] death.” The Pierce County Medical Examiner confirmed that Ellis died from respiratory arrest from hypoxia due to physical restraint. Methamphetamine intoxication and dilated cardiomyopathy—or an enlarged heart—were listed as contributing factors. They also declared the 33-year-old’s death to be a homicide.
In a police radio recording obtained by KIRO-TV, cops called an ambulance and instructed dispatchers to strap Ellis down. That is around the same time when he declared, “I can’t breathe.”
“The harshest of realities is George Floyd is right here in Tacoma, and his name is Manny,” Ellis’ family attorney, James Bible said.
According to officials, Manuel looked to be suffering from excited delirium, which can lead to “attempts at violence, unexpected strength and very high body temperature.” The New York Times reports that officers first interacted with Ellis when he was banging on the window of another vehicle before later allegedly attacking two officers.
Sheriff spokesman Ed Troyer said that while he didn’t believe they used a chokehold or took a knee to Ellis’ neck, the officers weren’t wearing body cameras (how convenient is that!) Ellis was still breathing when medical personnel arrived at the scene, which is when they removed his handcuffs and worked on him for around 40 minutes. After which, he was officially pronounced dead.
Monet Carter-Mixon, Ellis’ sister, has since demanded accountability from the police along with an investigation into the department’s practices: “There’s a lot of questions that still need to be answered,” she told the Times.