Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson released the following statement today on the investigation into the death of Manuel Ellis:

“In 2018, Washingtonians overwhelmingly passed Initiative 940 with nearly 60 percent of the vote. The new law requires that completely independent agencies investigate law enforcement’s use of deadly force.

“It is my understanding that the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office did not comply with the requirements of I-940. For example, I learned late yesterday that Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies were present at the scene when Manuel Ellis was detained and died. It is disturbing that the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office is only now, after more than three months, revealing its involvement. To be blunt, the result is a totally unnecessary delay in the investigation of this case. Ultimately, Pierce County must answer for its failure to comply with I-940, issue an apology to the Ellis family, and immediately implement reforms to ensure investigations comply with the law.

“I am working with the Governor to ensure an independent law enforcement investigation, and once that is complete, an independent charging decision free of any conflicts. The Ellis family and the public deserve a process they can trust, and that is my priority right now.”


The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

Media contact:

Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov

General contacts: Click here