Mexico condemns fatal shooting by police in Washington state

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 13, 2015 3:22 PM

By Daniel Wallis

(Reuters) - The Mexican government is condemning this week's fatal shooting by police in Washington state of a Mexico-born man who had thrown rocks at officers in an incident captured on video.

Mexico's Foreign Affairs Ministry called for an exhaustive investigation of the killing of Antonio Zambrano-Montes in the city of Pasco, about 200 miles (320 km) southeast of Seattle. The ministry said its consul in Seattle was offering legal advice to relatives of the victim, who was originally from Michoacan state.

The incident comes amid heightened tension over policing in the United States after incidents including the killings of two unarmed black men last year by white police officers in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson and New York City.

"Mexico's government strongly condemns incidents in which lethal force is used disproportionately," the ministry said in a statement late on Thursday. "These unfortunate events damage communities and they erode confidence in the authorities."

The ministry said officials had also written to the chief of police in Pasco asking about disciplinary measures that could be taken against the officers involved.

The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave, as per department policy, according to Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger. Two were hit by rocks and were treated at the scene.

The Pasco Police Department said three officers arrived on Tuesday afternoon at a grocery store parking lot where Zambrano-Montes threw rocks at them.

Metzger said on Wednesday that the officers first tried to use a stun gun to incapacitate Zambrano-Montes after he would not obey commands to surrender, then opened fire and killed him.

In a 22-second video apparently filmed by a motorist and uploaded to the Internet, Zambrano-Montes is shown running away from the officers before he was killed.

The man appears to throw a rock, several shots are heard, and he then crosses the street. He turns to face the pursuing officers, raising his right arm as if to throw another object, when they open fire again, according to the video.

Police have said they cannot confirm the authenticity of any online videos of the incident, and say the Tri-City Special Investigation Unit will conduct a full probe into the shooting.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis in Denver; Additional reporting by Tomas Sarmiento in Mexico City)