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Former Tacoma Officer Seeks $94M in Defamation Claim


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Timothy Rankine, a former Tacoma police officer, has initiated a defamation claim against city and state officials, seeking $94 million in damages. Rankine, along with officers Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins, was acquitted in December 2023 of charges related to the death of Manny Ellis, a Black man who died in police custody in March 2020.

Former Tacoma Officer Seeks $94M in Defamation Claim

Incident Details

Ellis died after being beaten, shocked, and hogtied by Tacoma police. The medical examiner ruled the death a result of suffocation, noting heart disease and methamphetamine as contributing factors. Rankine, who testified to pressing down on Ellis’ back despite his pleas of being unable to breathe, claims his reputation was irreparably damaged by the allegations and subsequent trial.

Legal Actions

Rankine filed claims with both the city of Tacoma and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, asserting that the prosecution was politically motivated and led to threats against his family. The city and state officials have not commented due to ongoing legal proceedings.

Resignations and Settlements


In January, Rankine agreed to resign from the Tacoma Police Department in exchange for $500,000. Similar agreements were made with Burbank and Collins, who were also acquitted of manslaughter and second-degree murder. Burbank briefly worked for the sheriff’s department in Thurston County but resigned after one day due to public outcry.

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Ongoing Investigations

The Department of Justice is reviewing Ellis’ death for potential civil rights violations. Additionally, state officials are considering revoking the certifications of the acquitted officers. The Ellis family has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and the officers, having previously settled with Pierce County for $4 million.

Rankine’s attorney, Joan Mell, stated that he wishes to return to law enforcement but feels blackballed by the industry. Meanwhile, Collins and Burbank have not indicated plans to file similar claims.

This ongoing case highlights Tacoma's complex intersection of law enforcement, community trust, and legal accountability.

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Carl Riedel
Carl Riedelhttps://softlayermedia.com
Carl Riedel is an experienced writer and Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) specialist, known for insightful articles that illuminate underreported issues. Passionate about free speech, he expertly transforms public data into compelling narratives, influencing public discourse.
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