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Council on Attorney General's Charging Decision

The Tacoma City Council's Joint Statement on Today's Attorney General's Office Charging Decision


May 27, 2021


Tanisha Jumper, Media and Communications, tjumper@cityoftacoma.org, (253) 591-5152
Maria Lee, Media and Communications, maria.lee@cityoftacoma.org, (253) 591-2054

The Tacoma City Council's Joint Statement on Today's Attorney General's Office Charging Decision 

Today, our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of Manuel Ellis. They have had to endure the heartbreaking loss of their son, brother, father and friend. They are now working to process that the Attorney General’s Office has filed felony charges in Pierce County Superior Court, who will serve as the prosecutor in these cases,  against three Tacoma Police Department officers involved in the death of Manuel Ellis. According to the Attorney General’s Office, this is the first time they have criminally charged police officers for the unlawful use of deadly force, and just the second time homicide charges have been filed in Washington against law enforcement officers since Washingtonians adopted Initiative 940 in November 2018. 

The length of time this investigation has taken has weighed heavily on us all, and we are grieved by what the family and loved ones of Manuel Ellis have been through this past year. What has come into sharp focus at this point, in the history of our city and our nation, is that the current culture of law enforcement needs to evolve. It must, if we are to meet the needs of community members that we, as policy makers, are sworn to serve.  
Over the past year – in collaboration with our community members to include the Community Police Advisory Committee, the Heal the Heart Core Coordinating Team and countless others –  the City initiated measures to prevent such tragedies from happening again in Tacoma. Together, we have equipped Tacoma police officers with body cameras, reworked Tacoma police policies to include implementation of “8 Can’t Wait" police reform strategies, and evaluated how the City deploys its resources to best transform public safety in a way that matches what our community envisions for a Tacoma that is its very best version of itself. 
We passed Resolution 40622 in June 2020 to formally acknowledge that the City's existing systems have not adequately served the needs of everyone in our community and, in particular, those of Black community members and other community members of color.
While the challenges of the past year have tested our community's resolve, many people have continued to do the difficult and emotionally demanding work that is required to drive our beloved city forward, knowing that true reform does not come easily or quickly.
We are tremendously proud of our Tacoma community for their commitment and dedication to this issue, as well as those who serve with honor in our Tacoma Police Department, for having the courage to continue showing up over the past year and working hard to take a critical look at the City policies, practices and systems that were in place the night of Manuel Ellis' death. This tragedy is not only a turning point for police reform in Tacoma, but across our state and nation.  We, as a community, are resolute to enact changes in policing. No one should fear law enforcement or die in police custody.

We encourage every community member to remain engaged, challenge us with hard questions, and continue to hold us accountable as we work to achieve the lasting systemic change we all hope to see in Tacoma going forward. This is an important turning point for Tacoma. The City is grateful for the opportunity to work alongside Tacoma's community members every step of the way.

More information about the City’s transformation efforts is available at cityoftacoma.org/transform.