Statement from Speaker Laurie Jinkins on not guilty verdict for officers charged with the death of Manuel Ellis

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Today, Speaker Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) issued the following statement after the three Tacoma Police Department (TPD) officers were found not guilty of the murder and manslaughter of Manuel Ellis during March 2020.

“Manny Ellis should still be alive.

“Since his death in 2020, and in response to a massive movement calling for police reform and increased police accountability, we have passed laws requiring law enforcement to exhaust all options for de-escalation before considering deadly force. These changes will save lives, but unfortunately, they will not bring Mr. Ellis back.

“My heart is with Mr. Ellis’ family and friends, and with our whole community as we process this news and continue to process his loss. I want to recognize that for Black communities in particular this news may resurface all too familiar experiences of emotional devastation, where justice and legal accountability might feel out of reach. We have seen too many devastating losses, here and across the country, that further remind us of the work we must do, collectively, to combat anti-black racism and the deadly impact it has on all of us.

“In the days ahead, I hope that we gather in community, creating spaces where we can give each other the grace, support, and care so necessary for processing our collective bereavement. Throughout the trial, I’ve drawn hope from how our community has peacefully cared for one another, and I draw comfort from believing that will continue into the future.

“It is the job of the legislature to meaningfully address social injustices and civil inequalities. We do this by making policies that create safer, more equitable, and more dignified lives for all Washingtonians. Part of this work is continuously evaluating the impact of our laws to ensure they better solve the problems they are meant to address.

“I have carried thoughts of Manuel Ellis with me as we have considered legislation over the past few years, thinking of his loss as we address the problems that are ours to solve.

“This is our first major trial since the passage of increased oversight and accountability for law enforcement use of deadly force. While we have made meaningful and important strides in this direction, today’s verdict shows there is still so much work to do, including building a future where we can establish trust between our communities and our law enforcement officers.”