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Officer Acquitted in Black Man’s Death Alleges Defamation

Timothy Rankine, a Washington state police officer, was cleared of manslaughter charges in the 2020 death of Manuel Ellis, a Black man who was subjected to electric shocks, beaten, and held facedown on a sidewalk while pleading for breath. Though Ellis’ death remains under review by the Department of Justice for civil rights violations, Rankine was left with a destroyed reputation, he said in multimillion-dollar defamation claims against local and state officials, according to The Associated Press. Rankine, an Asian American former Tacoma Police Department officer, alleges in the tort claims seeking $47 million in damages that he was falsely accused of criminal and racist misconduct, KNKX reported Monday.

During the trial last year, Rankine testified that he had pressed down on Ellis’ back on March 3, 2020, despite Ellis saying he couldn’t breathe. But Rankine and his wife, Katherine Chinn, claim that Attorney General Bob Ferguson, his staff and contractors, as well as elected officials in Tacoma and city employees defamed Rankine by falsely accusing him of criminal misconduct and that those accusations were politically motivated, The News Tribune reported. Rankine and his two co-defendants, who were also cleared of criminal charges, each received $500,000 to leave the Tacoma Police Department earlier this year. Joan Mell, an attorney for Rankine, told KNKX that he wants to return to law enforcement but feels he’s been blackballed.


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