Falsely accused former Tacoma police officer sues City and State for defamation

TACOMA, WA - Former Tacoma Police Officer Timothy Rankine, who was acquitted of all charges in the 2020 death of Manuel Ellis, a man in his custody, is now suing the city and the State of Washington for defamation.

According to The Associated Press, Rankine, along with fellow officers Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins, were tried and cleared of all charges related to the death of Manuel Ellis, 33, who died from lack of oxygen during physical restraint incident to his arrest. The officer's attorneys attributed his death to a lethal amount of methamphetamine as well as a heart condition, not the officers’ actions.

Ellis was detained for questioning by the officers and became aggressive. Collins testified during the trial that Ellis attempted to open the door of a parked vehicle and when confronted by officers showed "superhuman strength" by lifting the officer off the ground and bodily throwing him.

Officers Rankine and Burbank then intervened. While Tased and handcuffed with Rankine kneeling on his back, Ellis began to complain that he couldn't breathe until he lost consciousness and later died.

Attorney Joan Mell, representing Rankine and his wife Katherine Chinn, filed claims on behalf of the two of them in March with the city and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, according to The Seattle Times.

Rankine is reportedly seeking $35 million while Chinn is seeking an additional $12 million. The News Tribune reported that Rankine and Chinn claim the Washington AG, "his staff and contractors, as well as elected officials in Tacoma and city employees defamed Rankine by falsely accused him of criminal misconduct and that those accusations were politically motivated," citing copies of the tort claims reported by KNKX

The outlet noted that the three officers each resigned from the Tacoma Police Department receiving a $500,000 settlement each from the city, 

Mell told KNKX that Rankine wishes to return to law enforcement but feels that he's been blackballed. A few months ago Officer Burbank was hired by a nearby county as a patrol deputy only to resign days later.
Sheriff Derek Sanders of Thurston County told reporters that he failed to anticipate the community's response, potentially lending credence to Rankine's claims. “While acknowledging the distressing nature of the events in Tacoma four years ago, we want to emphasize that Deputy Burbank has been cleared of any wrongdoing both by Tacoma PD, Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office and a jury trial,” Sanders said.
For corrections or revisions, click here.
The opinions reflected in this article are not necessarily the opinions of LET
Sign in to comment



I apologize to former Officers Timothy Rankine, Christopher Burbank, and Matthew Collins; who will? As a former resident of "that state", I imagine the three men suffered grave economic damage as well as liberal scorn....scorned until their help was needed. I cannot imagine the degree of pain they and their loved ones felt as the former officers repeatedly walked the gauntlet of loud-mouthed idiots. I pray for all of them and their loved ones. May "that state" someday recognize the ruin they're creating. Meanwhile, let the lawsuits against "that state" begin!!


Until they wake up and change who they vote into their offices. Nothing will change!

Powered by LET CMS™ Comments

Get latest news delivered daily!

We will send you breaking news right to your inbox

© 2024 Law Enforcement Today, Privacy Policy