Pasco, Wash., police fired 17 shots in fatal clash with man throwing rocks

A Washington state man shot and killed by police this month in an incident captured on video was struck at least five times by bullets, investigators said Wednesday.

The deadly clash Feb. 10 in a Pasco, Wash., parking lot took place after police confronted Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, following reports that he was hurling rocks at vehicles. Police fired 17 rounds at Zambrano-Montes, according to Sgt. Ken Lattin, public information officer for the Tri-Cities Special Investigations Unit, which is reviewing the shooting.

On Wednesday, Lattin said police had determined that Zambrano-Montes was not shot in the back. A final analysis by the state medical examiner’s office may not be completed until March, he said.


Lattin said further questions would be fielded by city officials and the Franklin County prosecutor or coroner.

Investigators’ initial findings were released a day after the attorney who represented the family of Michael Brown, Benjamin Crump, announced he would be representing Zambrano-Montes’ parents. The police killing of Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last year spurred intense protests and questions about police use of force.

In the Washington shooting, authorities said Pasco police sent to the parking lot ordered Zambrano-Montes to stop throwing rocks several times, and tried to subdue him with a stun gun after he struck two officers with rocks.

In a statement released shortly after the shooting, police said they shot Zambrano-Montes several times and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

A video posted to YouTube, however, appears to show Zambrano-Montes exiting the parking lot, 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 weapons. It was unclear whether all three officers fired at him.

The shooting is under investigation by several agencies. While the Tri-Cities Special Investigation Unit has been handling media requests and is reviewing the circumstances of the shooting, Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdell has also called for a special coroner’s office inquest into the deadly clash.

While the coroner’s inquest cannot result in the filing of criminal charges, the findings of the panel can be reviewed by local prosecutors, Blasdell previously told the Los Angeles Times.

Pasco, about 200 miles southeast of Seattle near the Oregon border, is part of the Tri-Cities area that also includes Kennewick and Richland.

Crump’s entry into the case is the latest in a series of legal maneuvers that have followed the shooting.

Zambrano-Montes’ widow and daughters filed a $25-million wrongful-death claim against the police department this month, according to the Seattle Times, but it remains unclear if they had legal standing to do so.

Adner Marcelin, speaking on behalf of Crump, told the Los Angeles Times that the pair may not have been legally married. Zambrano-Montes’ parents, who both reside in Mexico, have asked Crump’s office to conduct a separate investigation of the shooting, Marcelin said.

Marcelin declined to comment on the pending claim by the woman identified as Zambrano-Montes’ widow, who is being represented by a seperate law firm.

Zambrano-Montes had been arrested last year on suspicion of assaulting a city police officer, and a warrant for his arrest was issued in early February after he failed to appear in court. He was last released from police custody the day before the shooting, court records show.

One of the Pasco officers involved in the shooting, Ryan Flanagan, had been named in an excessive-force lawsuit filed by Pasco resident Maria Davila-Marquez in 2009, according to court records. 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 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, a police spokesman previously told The Times.

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