The Hispanic community in Washington is urging the U.S Justice Department to investigate the death of Antonio Zambrano-Montes, an unarmed orchard worker who was fatally shot by police last week in Pasco, in the southeastern part of the state. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Felix Vargas, chairman of local Hispanic group Consejo Latino, said the Mexican national’s constitutional rights were violated, the Associated Press reported.
On Feb. 10, Zambrano-Montes allegedly threw rocks at vehicles and Pasco police officers, making them feel threatened. Witnesses said officers shot and killed the 35-year-old man as he was running away. A witness videotaped the shooting, which appears to show Zambrano-Montes running from the officers with his hands raised just before he is shot.
Family members arrived from Mexico Monday to visit the site in the agricultural city where Zambrano-Montes was killed and to obtain his remains. The Franklin County Coroner’s office is waiting for permission from the prosecutor’s office to release the body to the family, according to Tri-Cities station KVEW-TV.
“It’s a horrible thing,” the man’s sister, Rosalena Zambrano-Montes, told KVEW-TV. “If I were a police officer, I would have never done something like that.”
Zambrano-Montes’ widow, Teresa De Jesus Meraz Ruiz, and the couple’s two daughters filed a $25 million claim against the city of Pasco over the weekend, accusing the three officers of assault, battery, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, wrongful death and civil rights violations, CNN reported. The accused officers are on paid administrative leave, Pasco City Manager Dave Zabell told CNN Saturday.
Eduardo Baca, the Mexican consul in Seattle, wrote a letter to Pasco Police Chief Robert Metzger last week asking for a thorough investigation and voicing “deep concern over the unwarranted use of lethal force against an unarmed Mexican national by police officers.” Metzger replied in a letter Friday, stating the Pasco Police Department and other law enforcement agencies are investigating the incident, according to CNN.
Some 700 protesters rallied in downtown Pasco Saturday, demanding justice for Zambrano-Montes and calling for a review of Pasco Police Department policies. Demonstrators chanted “it was just a rock” and held signs that read “Use Your Training, Not Guns” and “Good Police We Respect You,” AP reported.
â€” Joshua Trujillo (@joshtrujillo) February 14, 2015
The fatal shooting of Zambrano-Montes is the third killing by Pasco police officers since July and the latest in a series of police-involved deaths against unarmed victims that have sparked national outrage in recent months. Some have drawn comparisons between Zambrano-Montes' killing and the deaths of Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York, which prompted protests in cities across the country.
A police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Brown in August on a Ferguson, Missouri, street. A St. Louis County grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the unarmed black teenager’s death. Several weeks earlier, a police officer on Staten Island put 43-year-old Garner in a fatal chokehold. A New York City grand jury decided not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the unarmed black man’s death.
Garner’s death also was captured on video by a bystander, showing a police officer wrapping his arm around Garner’s neck while other officers wrestled him to the ground. Garner shouted, “I can’t breathe!” six times before he went silent and was later pronounced dead.
Witnesses to Brown’s death claimed the unarmed teenager put his hands up before he was shot and killed.