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Three US police officers charged with suffocating an African-American

The drama occurred a few weeks before that of George Floyd, under similar circumstances, without experiencing the same planetary impact. 
In March 2020, Manuel Ellis, a 33-year-old African-American, died of suffocation during a police stop, during which he, too, begged 
"I cannot breathe".

The authorities of the American state of Washington announced, Thursday, May 27, the indictment of three police officers involved in this fatal arrest. 

Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins, police officers in Tacoma, a city about 50 km from Seattle, are charged with murder, and their colleague Timothy Rankine with manslaughter, said the attorney general of this state in the northwest of the United States., 

Bob Ferguson. Arrest warrants have been issued against the three men, who face life imprisonment, said the elected Democrat, to whom the case had been entrusted.

On March 3, 2020, MM. Burbank and Collins had wanted to challenge Manuel Ellis who was walking home after buying donuts in a grocery store. They had assured that the thirty-something had attacked them, but videos and witnesses have undermined their version of the facts, according to the services of the prosecutor.

These stout-sized ex-servicemen "pinned Ellis to the ground, hit him several times, strangled and shot him three times with their electric pistol, without justification," they write in one. statement of their grievances. 

Officer Rankine, who arrived shortly after with other reinforcements, "kept Ellis prone and continued to put pressure on his back although he said he couldn't breathe," they add.

"The first step towards justice"

The scene was recorded by a surveillance camera and passers-by. On one of the films, handcuffed Mr. Ellis is heard begging, "I can't breathe, sir." " At no time, he seems to exert resistance.

The death of African-American George Floyd on May 25, 2020, below the knee of a white Minneapolis policeman, had drawn attention to the case, and Manuel Ellis's name had become customary in major protests against the police violence of the summer.

In this context, the governor of the State of Washington Jay Inslee had relieved the sheriff and the local prosecutor of the investigation, evoking a "conflict of interest". On Thursday, the "thanked" Bob Ferguson "for conducting a thorough investigation. " "This is the first step towards justice," he added in a statement.

Traditionally, prosecutions of American police officers have been very rare, not least because of their links to local prosecutors, and convictions even more. 

In April, however, a jury convicted of murdering police officer Derek chauvinist, who knelt on top of George Floyd for nearly ten minutes. Since that verdict, two other police officers have been charged with murder and a final one convicted by an Alabama jury for shooting a suicidal man.

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