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Three Tacoma Police officers are free men after sitting at a Pierce County defendant table for the last eleven weeks.

Thursday afternoon, the jury came back with the not-guilty verdicts for Officers Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins, and Timothy Rainken.

All three were charged with 1st degree Manslaughter, Burbank and Collins also faced 2nd degree Murder. The jury also found the three not guilty of the lesser, 2nd-degree manslaughter charge.

Burbank’s attorney, Wayne Fricke, said he and the Prosecution thought the jury was headed toward a mistrial, but believe the jury ultimately came to the right conclusion. Fricke says he understands the pain some are feeling after the verdicts, but also says he doesn’t think this should have gone to trial at all.

“They should have never been charged. Sad things happen in police work, and this is a sad thing,” said Fricke.

Fricke says this is the biggest case he’s tried in his 30-plus-year career. He says he and Burbank felt the weight on their shoulders get lighter with every verdict the jury read.

“When the third one was read, I just really patted his leg, and he reached out.  it’s total relief,” said Fricke.

Fricke said the first thing he did after agreeing to defend Officer Burbank was to watch the now notorious witness video of the struggle the day Manny Ellis died.

“It was not an issue for me to represent Shane [Christopher] Burbank.” Fricke continued, “If you just pull that video out this is a horrible situation, but it doesn’t show what led up to it and you can’t address that video unless you know what happened beforehand.”

KIRO 7 also asked Fricke a question friends and family of Manny Ellis asked numerous times, why information about the officers’ work history wasn’t allowed in the courtroom.

“That’s normal and some of your motions get granted and some don’t and that’s on both sides,” Fricke explained. “So, we kept out certain information, they kept out certain information.”

It’s not like 100% one side got everything they wanted,” he continued.

Excluding that information was a mistake according to the President of the Ministerial Alliance.

“I think one of the greatest travesties is not the jury who did the very best they could with what they were given,” said Bishop Doctor Lawrence White. “I believe it was a travesty that the judge was allowed to exclude information that was extremely important.”

Bishop Doctor White also says they’re still waiting for justice to be served.

“Our frustration is with how the system allowed itself to play out,” said White.

He added, “We look forward to the report of the internal affairs and their administrative review of the death of Manny Ellis.

The Tacoma Police Department’s internal investigation is expected to wrap up Friday, but it won’t be released to the public for another 10 days.

When KIRO 7 asked Bishop Doctor White, what justice looked like to him.

He said, “For me, in my personal accountability it will be for these officers to be fired.”

Some people took to the streets following the not-guilty verdicts.

Tacoma’s Mayor Victoria Woodards shared her thoughts with the community saying in part, “We learned together today that all three officers have been found not guilty,” she said. “This verdict undoubtedly elicits a wide range of emotions from each and every one of us including myself.”

“I saw the mayor’s comments last night and I was appalled,” said Fricke “She’s simply wrong I think it’s an insult to the jury.”

He added, “and an insult to the process.”

There is a civil lawsuit in the future per the Ellis family’s civil rights attorney.

KIRO 7 did get in contact with all three attorneys and asked if the officers would be available for comment, but all said they wanted to use the next few days to decompress.



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