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Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Dec. 6, 2023

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Manuel Ellis trial spawns phone scam aimed at duping victims into helping police


TACOMA — Scammers will stoop to any low.

The trial of three Tacoma police officers charged in the death of Manuel “Manny” Ellis in 2020 has apparently generated a scam in Pierce County.

Some phone callers to local businesses have been requesting donations on behalf of the Tacoma Police Department to assist the three officers whose trial began with jury selection Monday.

“The Tacoma Police Department is not, nor will it, solicit funds from community members in this manner or this circumstance,” the department said in a news release late Thursday afternoon.

Ellis, 33, was on his way home from a convenience store in his South End neighborhood when he encountered officers Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins at the corner of 96th Street South and Ainsworth Avenue. Within an hour, Ellis was dead.

The Pierce County medical examiner found the cause was hypoxia due to physical restraint, with methamphetamine intoxication and heart disease contributing.

Burbank and Collins were charged the next year with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter by the office of state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Timothy Rankine, who responded to the scene after a call for backup and kneeled on Ellis, is charged with first-degree manslaughter. The officers have pleaded not guilty.

Tacoma police urge anyone who receives a scam call to immediately contact South Sound 911’s non-emergency line at 253-287-4455. They also urge recipients to note phone numbers and email addresses.

Tipsters can call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS or use the P3 tips app. All tipsters have the option to remain anonymous, police said.

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