On Wednesday, the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office in Tacoma, Washington, concluded that 33-year-old Manuel Ellis was killed in police custody as a result of oxygen deprivation while he was physically restrained during an encounter on March 3.
According to The New York Times, Ellis, a father of two, pleaded with officers to relax their restraints, telling them, “I can’t breathe.” When medical support arrived, police reports say officers removed handcuffs from Ellis and he received medical attention for “about 40 minutes,” before dying from his sustained injuries.
The medical examiner’s office notes Ellis died from respiratory arrest, hypoxia and physical restraint. In its report, it listed methamphetamine intoxication and heart disease as contributing factors in his death, per The Times.
Another Man Who Said ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Died in Custody
Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office concluded the death of 33 year old #ManuelEllis was a homicide. He died from respiratory arrest, hypoxia and physical restraint. #BlackLivesMatterhttps://t.co/nEDB5llYWe pic.twitter.com/qncnpCVPAU
— 🎤😷Cleavon Gilman, MD (@Cleavon_MD) June 4, 2020
George Floyd was killed, on camera, begging for his mother. It’s almost unimaginable to think that there is a family who has personally experienced such a tragedy. But there is, and they have words of encouragement.
“I can’t breathe” became a battle cry six years ago when Eric Garner was suffocated to death by a New York Police Department officer. His alleged crime had been selling loose cigarettes. Former NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo administered the fatal, banned chokehold and was never charged. In fact, he wasn’t terminated from the police force until five years after the 2014 Garner slaying. Pantaleo then promptly turned around and sued the police force for wrongful termination, as Blavity previously reported.
Floyd’s asphyxia at the hands of police is eerily similar to Garner — both men had been accused of minor infractions, and in their last moments, both men were heard saying they couldn’t breathe.
After Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, heard about the almost identical deaths she was determined to reach out to the Floyd family, according to The City. She reached out to Floyd’s siblings and shared her sympathy for their current situation.
“I offered my deepest sympathies. I told them that I know how they’re feeling because it brings me back to the day that my son was murdered. I can just feel that energy, that sadness,” Carr told the outlet. “That dark place. The same place that I was in.”
Carr offered words of encouragement and strength to the siblings, Terrence and Bridgett Floyd, telling them to never give up the fight for their brother’s memory.
“I just told them that, No matter what, you can depend on me if you need me. Don’t forget. You cannot let this go. Keep the fight up no matter what happens with the cameras,” Carr said.
“The cameras are going to go away, the people are going to go away, but you still fight for your loved one,” Carr continued.
The Floyd siblings have been heavily involved in activism amid the nationwide protests following their brother’s death. On Tuesday, Terrence announced a New York memorial service that will happen in tandem with a service held in Minneapolis, where Floyd was slain, according to ABC 11.
Many celebrities have spoken out to denounce police brutality and offer support to the Floyd family. Undefeated boxing icon and lucrative businessman Floyd Mayweather offered to pay for Floyd’s funeral services, which was accepted by the Floyd family. Mayweather was compelled to offer direct assistance after he discovered that his company CEO had grown up with Floyd in Houston, Texas, as Blavity previously reported.
National protests gave way to riots and looting in some major cities, but it has been reported that militants and white supremacists may be responsible for the violence.
Even still, Black rage and hurt have been palpable during the growing civil unrest.
On Monday, Terrence spoke at a gathering in Minnesota and condemned violence during the protests, encouraging demonstrators to let their voices be heard at voting polls instead, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported.
“I understand you all are upset, but like it was already said, I doubt you all are half as upset as I am. So if I’m not over here wilding out, if I’m not over here blowing up stuff and if I’m not over here messing up my community then what are you all doing? You are all doing nothing, because that’s not going to bring my brother back all at all,” said Terrence. “Let’s stop thinking that our voice doesn’t matter. Educate yourself and know who you’re voting for.”