Washington state’s Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office concluded this week that the death of 33-year-old African-American man Manuel Ellis was a homicide. Ellis, like George Floyd, also uttered the words “I can’t breathe” while dying in police custody.
The medical examiner’s report revealed that Ellis, who was killed in Tacoma, Washington, in March, died due to oxygen deprivation, respiratory arrest and the physical restraint used on him. While the report listed heart disease and methamphetamine intoxication as contributing factors, the medical examiner concluded that his death was a homicide.
Tacoma Police Department officers stopped Ellis on March 3 at an intersection. According to Troyer, police saw him banging on another vehicle’s window. Ellis then approached the officers and threw one of them to the ground. Four other police officers subsequently handcuffed Ellis.
After Ellis told the officers that he could not breathe, he was rolled onto his side. Police later called for medical assistance.
“The main reason why he was restrained was so he wouldn’t hurt himself or them. As soon as he said he couldn’t breathe, they requested medical aid,” Troyer said. When medical personnel arrived at the scene, Ellis was still breathing, but within 40 minutes, he was declared dead.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee of Washington also said that the state’s officials “will be pushing to make sure there is a full and complete investigation of that incident.”