A video of a deadly clash between Pasco, Wash., police officers and an unarmed man appears to show the officers shooting the man as he runs away -- infuriating residents and civil liberties leaders.
Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, was shot and killed by Pasco police officers around 5 p.m. Tuesday after, police said, he threw rocks at them.
In a statement released Wednesday, the department said Zambrano-Montes ignored several orders to stop throwing rocks at cars in a parking lot on North 10th Avenue and West Lewis Street.
The man began throwing rocks at the officers, including one "that was about softball size," and struck two of them, according to the police statement. The officers tried to subdue Zambrano-Montes with a stun gun before eventually opening fire with their service weapons.
Zambrano-Montes was pronounced dead at the scene. The Tri-City Special Investigation Unit is handling the case, police said.
A graphic video posted to YouTube on Wednesday appears to show the end of the deadly clash. In the video, Zambrano-Montes can be seen exiting the parking lot, possibly with his hands in the air, and then running away down a side street with the officers in pursuit.
Near the end of the clip, Zambrano-Montes briefly turns toward the officers. He then falls to the ground as the officers raise their service weapons. It is unclear whether all three officers fired at him.
"This is a very disturbing incident, and our hearts go out to the family of Antonio Zambrano-Montes. Fleeing from police and not following an officer’s command should not be sufficient for a person to get shot," said Kathleen Taylor, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington state. "Lethal force should be used only as an absolute last resort. Police need to understand how to de-escalate confrontations and use force only as necessary.”
The Pasco Police Department identified the officers involved in the shooting as Ryan Flanagan, Adam Wright and Adrian Alaniz. Flanagan is a nine-year veteran traffic safety officer. Wright has been a police officer for eight years and works as a firearms instructor, and Alaniz had been working as a patrol officer for two years, the department said.
Flanagan and another officer were named in an excessive-force lawsuit filed by Pasco resident Maria Davila-Marquez in 2009, court records show. Davila-Marquez accused Flanagan of restraining her and pressing her against the hood of a police cruiser, which was “hot enough to burn human skin,” according to the lawsuit.
The woman suffered burns to her face as a result of the incident, according to the suit. Flanagan was apparently searching for a teenage suspect at the time. Davila-Marquez was 30 years old on the date of the incident, according to the complaint.
The city eventually reached a $100,000 settlement with the woman, according to a report in the Tri-City Herald. The lawsuit said the department did not discipline Flanagan for the incident.
Pasco Police Capt. Ken Roske told the Los Angeles Times that Zambrano-Montes was known to the department and had a criminal record. He said Zambrano-Montes was charged with assault on a Pasco police officer in January 2014.
The department was not aware of any mental health issues the man might have had, Roske said.
Franklin County court records show Zambrano-Montes was arrested in January 2014 and pleaded guilty to a criminal charge last June, though the records do not say what he was charged with.
A bench warrant had been issued for Zambrano-Montes' arrest after he failed to appear in court on another unspecified charge two weeks ago, records show. He was last released from police custody Feb. 9, the day before he was shot.
The shooting left witnesses such as Pasco resident Benjamin Patrick shaken. Patrick told the Seattle Times that Zambrano-Montes may have been shot once near the parking lot, and appeared to be running away when the officers opened fire a second time.
“I could not believe they were shooting guns," he told the Seattle Times. "There were cars and people everywhere.”
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