Manuel Ellis also called out “I can’t breathe” while in handcuffs and being restrained on the ground by police, CBS News reports. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards said they will ensure that there is a “full and complete investigation into [Ellis'] death.”
The Pierce County Medical Examiner confirmed that Ellis died from respiratory arrest from hypoxia due to physical restraint. Methamphetamine intoxication and dilated cardiomyopathy—or an enlarged heart—were listed as contributing factors. The ME also declared the 33-year-old’s death to be a homicide.
In a 12-minute police radio recording obtained by CBS affiliate KIRO-TV, police called an ambulance and instructed dispatchers to strap Ellis down. Around then is when he said, “I can’t breathe.”
“The harshest of realities is George Floyd is right here in Tacoma, and his name is Manny,” Ellis’ family attorney, James Bible said.
Officials said Ellis looked to be suffering from excited delirium, which can lead to “attempts at violence, unexpected strength and very high body temperature,” CBS writes.
The New York Times reports that officers first interacted with Ellis when he was banging on the window of another vehicle, and later allegedly attacked two officers. He was later handcuffed.
Sheriff spokesman Ed Troyer said that while he didn’t believe they used a chokehold or took a knee to Ellis’ neck, the officers weren’t wearing body cameras. They rolled him to his side after he called out, “I can’t breathe.” Ellis was still breathing when medical personnel arrived at the scene. They removed his handcuffs and worked on him for around 40 minutes, after which he was pronounced dead.
Ellis’ sister, Monet Carter-Mixon has demanded accountability from the police and an investigation into the police department’s practices. “There’s a lot of questions that still need to be answered,” she told the Times.
Ellis’ friend, Brian Giordano told the publication that Ellis had been living in a clean-and-sober house. “He was always uplifting,” Mr. Giordano said. “He was always on the up-and-up about taking care of people.”
Ellis leaves behind an 11-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter. He was also a musician at his church.