Ex-Tacoma officer cleared in Manny Ellis trial resigns days after being hired as deputy

Thurston County Sheriff Derek Sanders announced on social media he hired Christopher Burbank as a patrol deputy.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Former Tacoma Police Officer Christopher Burbank, who was just hired as a deputy with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office after he was acquitted in the death of Manny Ellis, has resigned.

On Monday, April 1, Thurston County Sheriff Derek Sanders announced on social media he had hired Burbank as a patrol deputy.

But on Wednesday, Sanders said Burbank had resigned from his position with the sheriff’s office “based on community response and death threats made to Deputy Burbank’s family.”

In a news release, Sanders said he had hired Burbank as a patrol deputy in response to the sheriff’s office staffing crisis without considering the impact to the community.

“Furthermore, I entirely misjudged community perception on the investigation and jury process that Deputy Burbank completed. I recognize the harm this has caused to marginalized communities, and I was wrong,” Sanders wrote in the release.

Sanders cited “immense pressure” to fill vacancies in his decision to hire Burbank and said because the sheriff’s office was one of the lowest paying agencies in Thurston County, it had lost dozens of staff members and had struggled to find qualified replacements.

“Trust is gained in drops and lost in buckets. For those who have lost confidence in me, or what we’re trying to accomplish at TCSO, I apologize for letting you down. I recognize that there are spaces I may no longer be welcome in, and this is a challenging reality for me to accept. I intend to schedule a time for a public forum where community members can express their concerns directly to me. I will continue to learn and improve,” Sanders wrote.

Christopher Burbank, Matthew Collins, Timothy Rankine were accused of repeatedly punching, tasing, kicking and choking Manny Ellis until he died.

But after a 10-week trial, jurors acquitted the officers, siding with the defense that Ellis’s drug use and bad heart likely led to his death.