OLYMPIA, WA — Washington is moving to bar police from hogtying suspects, a proposal spurred by the March 2020 death of 33-year-old Manuel Ellis, who had been hogtied and told police several times that he couldn't breathe.
The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to pass Senate Bill 6009, which would ban the practice and classify it as excessive force. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.
Three police officers charged in Ellis' death were acquitted by a Pierce County jury in December.
Ellis was also punched, shocked with a Taser, placed in a neck hold, fitted with a nylon spit hood over his face, and knelt and sat on by officers. Ellis' death was ruled a homicide by the Pierce County medical examiner, caused by oxygen deprivation via physical restraint.
Tacoma Police Department policies at the time of Ellis' death were silent on hogtying. After Ellis' death, the Police Department's collective bargaining agreement with the city was revised to prohibit hogtying. Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards recently endorsed the proposed legislation banning the practice.
The bill defines hogtying as fastening together a suspect's bound or restrained ankles with their bound or restrained wrists.
The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Yasmin Trudeau, D- Tacoma, said Ellis "spent the final moments of his life hogtied, pleading for breath."
"He was loved, and he was somebody's family member," Trudeau said. "And I think any of us on the floor would not want our family member to spend the final moments of their life in this inhumane way."
All Democrats and Republicans in the Senate voted for the proposal.
Senate Republican Leader John Braun, of Centralia, said the elimination of hogtying would not affect police officers' ability to do their jobs.
"We think that most law enforcement would not want to do that anymore," he said. "And there are better ways to restrain folks, and safer ways — I think that is the most important thing — safer ways to do that."
Sen. John Lovick, D- Mill Creek, a former state trooper and Snohomish County sheriff, described hogtying as a "shameful practice."
"I have lived with the shame of watching a person get hogtied, and it's a shame that you have to live with," Lovick said. "We know better now, and it is time for us to end the use of this dehumanizing technique."
This story used material from Seattle Times archives.
Seattle Times staff reporter Patrick Malone contributed to this report.
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