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Tacoma ends contract with chaplaincy after it raised money for officers charged in Manuel Ellis case

Cranes have become more familiar fixtures of the Tacoma skyline as growth has increased in the City of Destiny in recent years.
Parker Miles Blohm
The city of Tacoma

The City of Tacoma is canceling a contract with the organization in charge of managing a proposed community trauma response team. 

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chaplaincy was initially contracted to train volunteers to assist people in times of crisis, helping them cope with grief during traumatic events such as suicides, car accidents and homicides. 

But community members pressured city leaders to end the partnership after it became public that the chaplaincy was raising money for police officers who were charged in the death of Manuel Ellis. Ellis, a Black man, was killed by Tacoma police in March 2020.
The attorney general has charged Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, while Timothy Rankine is charged with first-degree manslaughter. All three officers are out on bail, and they are on administrative leave while the city conducts an administrative review.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chaplaincy’s support of the officers was first revealed on social media by the activist group Tacoma Action Collective, spurring public pressure to end the partnership. Four dozen residents wrote to the city’s police advisory committee urging them to sever ties with the organization. 
Members of the police advisory committee also expressed concerns at a regular meeting Monday. They are scheduled to meet July 12 to assess how to move forward with the community trauma response services. 
“We remain committed to working with the community and City staff to find a solution that provides the community the support it needs and work to rebuild stronger community relationships,” Krystle Edwards, chair of the advisory council’s Community Trauma Response Team committee, said in a news release.  
City Manager Elizabeth Pauli made the decision to end the contract, effective June 29. The funds that remain from the $126,804 agreement will be set aside until the city determines next steps. 

Kari Plog is a former KNKX reporter who covered the people and systems in Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap counties, with an emphasis on police accountability.