July 25, 2021

Three US police officers charged with suffocating African-American man during arrest in March 2020

The drama occurred a few weeks before that of George Floyd, under similar circumstances, without experiencing the same planetary impact. In March 2020, Manuel Ellis, a 33-year-old African-American, died of suffocation during a police stop, during which he, too, begged ” I can not breathe “.

The authorities of the American state of Washington announced Thursday, May 27, the indictment of three police officers involved in this fatal arrest. Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins, police officers in Tacoma, a city about 50 km from Seattle, are charged with murder, and their colleague Timothy Rankine with manslaughter, said the attorney general of this state in the northwest of the United States. , Bob Ferguson. Arrest warrants have been issued against the three men, who face life imprisonment, said the elected Democrat, to whom the case had been entrusted.

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On March 3, 2020, MM. Burbank and Collins had wanted to challenge Manuel Ellis who was walking home after buying donuts in a grocery store. They had assured that the thirty-something had attacked them, but videos and witnesses have undermined their version of the facts, according to the prosecutor’s office.

These former soldiers with the corpulent size “Tackled Ellis to the ground, hit him several times, made a choke hold and shot him three times with their electric pistol, without justification”, they write in a statement of their grievances. Police Officer Rankine, who arrived shortly after with other reinforcements, “Kept Ellis face down and continued to put pressure on his back even though he said he couldn’t breathe”, they add.

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“The first step towards justice”

The scene was recorded by a surveillance camera and passers-by. On one of the films, we can hear Mr. Ellis, handcuffed, begging: “I can’t breathe, sir”. At no time did he seem to exert any resistance.

The death of African-American George Floyd on May 25, 2020, below the knee of a white Minneapolis policeman, had drawn attention to the case, and Manuel Ellis’s name had become customary in major protests against the police violence of the summer.

In this context, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee relieved the sheriff and the local prosecutor from the investigation into Mr. Manning’s death, citing a ” conflict of interest “. Thursday he has “Thanked” Bob Ferguson “To have carried out a thorough investigation”. “This is the first step towards justice”, he added, in a statement.

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Traditionally, prosecutions of American police officers have been very rare, not least because of their links to local prosecutors, and convictions even more. In April, however, a jury convicted of murdering police officer Derek chauvinist, who knelt on top of George Floyd for nearly ten minutes. Since that verdict, two other police officers have been charged with murder and a final one convicted by an Alabama jury for shooting a suicidal man.

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The World with AFP