Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, was throwing rocks at cars and police officers. Three Pasco Police officers – Ryan Flanagan, Adam Wright, and Adrian Alaniz – shot him down for the ‘crime’. The use of force against a man without a gun or a knife has drawn comparisons to the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson last year.
According to Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger, the cops, before opening fire and killing Antonio, attempted to use a Taser stun gun to injure him when he refused to surrender. Video footage shows the victim facing the cops with his arms in forefront as they open a barrage of gunfire ‒ as many as 13 shots – fatally wounding him.
Antonio grew up in Michoacán, Mexico and lived in Pasco where more than half the town’s 66,000 residents are Hispanic. “This was really not a racial issue,” Metzger told reporters. The shooting is being investigated by a multiagency Tri-City Special Investigations Unit made up of commanders and detectives from surrounding agencies.
Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry called for an exhaustive investigation of Antonio’s murder. “Mexico’s government strongly condemns incidents in which lethal force is used disproportionately. These unfortunate events damage communities and they erode confidence in the authorities,” the ministry said in a statement.
Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel is considering convening a rare inquest jury to look into the incident and decide whether the cops were justified in their use of deadly force. “We don’t want another Ferguson here in Pasco,” Blasdel said.
“In accordance with department policy, the officers have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. Upon completion of the SIU investigation, their report will be forwarded to the Franklin County Prosecutors office to be reviewed for any further action. Subsequent to the SIU investigation and prosecutor determination, an internal investigation will be conducted by the department,” the Pasco Police Department said in a statement.
The issue of officer training was central to a federal civil-rights lawsuit the city settled for $100,000 in 2012. The lawsuit involved Ryan Flanagan and alleged he was inadequately trained in the use of force.
Antonio’s aunt, Angela Zambrano, said, “Three police officers against one man throwing a rock? This was murder in cold blood”.
The shooting has spawned protests in Mexico. Protesters gathered outside the Pasco City Hall chanting, ‘We Want Justice!’ One sign read, ‘Stop Police Brutality! It Was Rock!’ More than 100 people demonstrated that night near the location where the shooting happened, chanting ‘Use Your Training, Not Your Gun’.
— Bruja☆Rebel (@BrujaRebel) February 16, 2015
Hundreds Protest Police Shooting Of Homeless Man For Throwing Rocks [VIDEO] http://t.co/mTBJPFkXPS
— The Real Anonymous (@anon99percenter) February 16, 2015
In Pasco, Washington in solidarity to protest the killing of Antonio Zambrano-Montes. pic.twitter.com/hSKBGduBQ2
— Russell Webster (@RussellWebster) February 14, 2015
According to court documents, Antonio had a history of erratic behavior. He was convicted of assault in 2014 after a confrontation with Pasco police, who had tried to stop him from hitting cars with a broom. He was arrested in the beginning of February 2015 for failing to pay his fine and court costs.
In 2006, Teresa D Meraz Ruiz filed for a protection order for herself and the couple’s two daughters due to Antonio’s volatile behavior. She said he threatened to kill her, physically abused her and pulled a knife and a gun on her during their nine-year relationship.