“We know that Manuel Ellis was one of far, far too many Black men who died while in police custody in America, including here in Washington state,” Inslee said in the release.
Ellis, 33, died March 3 while in Tacoma Police custody, and a medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.
In videosreleased by the Tacoma Action Collective, two cops can be seen assaulting Ellis before pinning him to the ground.
In audio files, Ellis can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe,” the same words said by George Floyd in Minneapolis and Eric Garner on Staten Island before they died in police custody.
“The harshest of realities is George Floyd is right here in Tacoma, and his name is Manny,” James Bible, the attorney representing Ellis’ family, told the Tacoma News Tribune.
Police have reported that Ellis attacked officers and banged on a patrol car. Four cops involved in restraining Ellis were put on paid administrative leave but have returned to duty.
Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards said all four officers involved in Ellis’s death should be fired, local NBC affiliate KING reported. The officers had previously been placed on administrative leave but have since returned to work.
“My decision does not in any way pre-judge an outcome, but the family of Mr. Ellis, the City of Tacoma and every Washington resident deserves the confidence that an extra level of scrutiny will bring,” Gov. Inslee said in his statement. "When these stories become part of the bitter history of racism in this country, we must make sure that each and every case is given the highest level of scrutiny.”