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February 11, 2015 at 10:50 AM

Witness questions fatal shooting of rock-throwing man by Pasco police

Update at 4:07 p.m.: The officers involved in the shooting have been identified by police as:

Ryan Flanagan, a 9-year veteran assigned to patrol; also a traffic safety officer.

Adam Wright, 8- year veteran assigned to patrol; also a firearms instructor and field training officer.

Adrian Alaniz, 2-year veteran assigned to patrol.

Update at 3:30 p.m.:  

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington issued a statement Wednesday afternoon calling the Pasco police-involved shooting “very disturbing.”

“Our hearts go out to the family of Antonio Zambrano-Montes,” said ACLU of Washington Director Kathleen Taylor. “Fleeing from police and not following an officer’s command should not be sufficient for a person to get shot.”

Update at 2:41 p.m.: During a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, Pasco Police Chief Robert Metzger said two police officers were struck by rocks thrown by the suspect, Antonio Zambrano-Montes. He said one of the rocks was as large as a softball. The officers were treated at the scene by medics.

He said officers tried to use a Taser on the man because of his “threatening behavior” toward police and citizens. He said the Taser had no effect.

Metzger said he did not know whether Zambrano-Montes was armed with anything other than rocks. He said he did now know whether a firearm was recovered from the scene.

He said the investigation was in its preliminary stages and declined to answer specific questions about the shooting and what led up to it.

Metzger said police planned to meet with the family of Zambrano-Montes.

According to Franklin County Superior Court records, Zambrano-Montes had been arrested in January 2014 for assault on a police officer, although details were not immediately known. The court dockets shows he pleaded guilty in June and was arrested just last week, apparently for failing to appear at a court hearing. He was released from jail on Monday, the docket indicates.

The chief said the investigation into the shooting would take a significant amount of time and warned there might be little information released by police until it’s completed.

Original post: A witness to the videotaped fatal shooting of a man by Pasco police said the man was unarmed “and was just trying to walk away” when officers shot him on a busy city sidewalk.

Investigators are reviewing a video of the shooting (warning, the video contains graphic images) made by a witness that shows officers firing as many as 13 shots at the man as he ran and backed away from them. He collapses to the sidewalk after a second volley of rounds.

Pasco resident Benjamin Patrick was with his wife and three children at the Fiesta Foods market in Pasco Tuesday afternoon and saw the man, whom Patrick described as between the ages of 25 and 30, struggling with a police officer on the side of the street. Patrick said he got out of his car and was going to help the officer when two other Pasco police officers drove up and confronted the man.

Patrick said he man was yelling at police. He said the man picked up two “rocks or dirt clods” and threw one, but it didn’t hit anyone.

At that point, he said, one of the officers tried to use a Taser, but Patrick doesn’t think both of the darts connected with the man. He said the man appeared to pull a dart from his arm, and then start walking across the intersection, which Patrick described as one of the busiest in town.

“That’s when they started shooting,” Patrick said in a telephone interview Wednesday with The Seattle Times. He counted five shots. “I could not believe they were shooting guns. There were cars and people everywhere.”

Patrick believes the man was first hit at that point. “I saw him react, sort of jump, like he’d been stung by a bee,” he said.

The man kept walking across the street onto the sidewalk, with the officers in pursuit. Patrick said he heard the police tell the man to get on the ground several times. The man appeared to turn, and a second volley of shots was fired and the man collapsed.

“I am really upset about what I saw,” said Patrick, who added that he was going to go to City Hall Wednesday to voice his concerns.

“Yes, he was resisting. Yes, he was wrong. But it looked like there might be something wrong with him. And he wasn’t hurting anyone. He had a rock, not a gun. It seems it could have been handled differently.”

Pasco police said officers had responded to a report of a man throwing rocks at cars about 5 p.m. Tuesday near the Fiesta Foods grocery store.

Police say the man assaulted two officers, refused to comply and withstood an attempt to subdue him with a Taser. Police say officers were forced to fire when they were threatened.

Capt. Ken Roske told Tri-City Herald three officers have been placed on leave for the investigation by the Tri-City Special Investigative Team, which will not include Pasco police.

The man has been identified as Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, according to the Tri-City Herald.

It was the fourth fatal police shooting in Pasco, a city of just under 68,000, in the past six months. Officers were cleared of any wrongdoing in the previous shootings.

Ayn Dietrich-Williams, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Seattle, said the bureau is aware of the video and that agents were watching the local investigation.

According to the Herald, about 60 people gathered outside Pasco City Hall on Wednesday to protest the shooting. Some held a sign that read, “Stop police brutality! It was rock!”

Information from The Associated Press is included in this post.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Officer-involved shooting, Pasco, Tri-City Special Investigative Team


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