News Flash

Prosecuting Attorney

Posted on: June 4, 2020

Statement regarding the death of Manuel Ellis

The role of the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in reviewing officer-involved fatal incidents is to examine the evidence and facts, then make a determination about the lawfulness of the officers’ actions. This case will be given a thorough and professional review.

First, you should know that our office has not yet received this case. The Sheriff’s Department’s independent investigation is ongoing, and our office will receive it when it is complete. Under the new law as passed in Initiative 940, investigations into officer-involved fatal incidents must be independent. In Pierce County, we conduct three separate investigations.

  • A different agency than the involved agency takes over the scene and conducts an independent investigation. In this case, because Tacoma Police Department was the involved agency, the Sheriff’s Department is investigating it.
  • Investigators from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office make their own investigation. They respond to the scene, examine evidence, sit in on officer and witness interviews and ask questions, and attend the autopsy.
  • The Medical Examiner’s Office also makes its own investigation to determine the cause and manner of death.

After all three investigations are completed, the findings from each are presented to Prosecuting Attorney Robnett. Afterward, she and experienced criminal prosecutors will discuss the case, ask for any additional information or investigation if necessary, and then make a determination about the legality of the officers’ actions.

Their mission is to consider all the evidence, be fair, deliberate honestly, and apply the law correctly.

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