Lawyer: 2nd autopsy in police shooting contradicts officials

AP News
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Posted: Feb 27, 2015 10:23 AM
Lawyer: 2nd autopsy in police shooting contradicts officials

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A lawyer for the family of an unarmed Mexican man killed by police in Washington state says independent autopsy results differ in at least two key details from statements made by authorities.

The second autopsy shows Antonio Zambrano-Montes was shot as many as seven times — including twice from behind. Lawyer Charles Herrmann, who commissioned the independent autopsy, announced its findings Thursday, a day after a spokesman for a special unit investigating the Feb. 10 shooting said five or six bullets struck Zambrano-Montes, but none from behind.

"Our report differs sharply with statements made by local law enforcement authorities," Herrmann said in a statement. He is representing the man's estranged wife and two daughters.

Zambrano-Montes, a 35-year-old Mexican immigrant, was shot after throwing rocks at police. The officers felt threatened, police said. His death has prompted calls for a federal investigation, along with a series of demonstrations in Pasco, an agricultural center with 68,000 residents about 130 miles southwest of Spokane.

A Seattle pathologist, Dr. Carl Wigren, performed the independent autopsy Feb. 20, and Herrmann released a portion of the report Thursday.

"The report reflects a total of as many as seven rounds striking Zambrano," the attorney said. It also found entry wounds on the back of the victim's right arm and one buttock, he said.

The independent autopsy determined the Pasco orchard worker also was shot in the face, stomach, chest, arm and scrotum, according to a diagram provided by Herrmann.

At a news conference Wednesday, Kennewick police Sgt. Ken Lattin was clear that preliminary results of the official autopsy showed Zambrano-Montes was not hit anywhere on the back of his body. That would indicate Zambrano-Montes was not shot while running from officers with his back turned.

Dr. Sig Menchel performed the official autopsy days after the shooting.

Lattin, a spokesman for the regional law enforcement task force examining the shooting, referred questions to county Prosecutor Shawn Sant on Thursday. Sant did not immediately return a telephone message from The Associated Press.

The final medical examiner's report is not yet finished but could be done within a month, Lattin said Wednesday.

He said investigators have determined three Pasco officers fired a total of 17 shots. Police have not said how many shots each officer fired or whether bullets from all three officers struck Zambrano-Montes.

Lattin said the autopsy results showed Zambrano-Montes was shot five or six times, but "there were no shots in the back."

The afternoon of Feb. 10, Zambrano-Montes was throwing rocks at passing vehicles and later at responding officers, authorities say.

Video taken by a witness shows the man running from officers. As the officers draw closer, he stops and faces them. Multiple pops are heard, and he falls, twisting, to the ground as the pops continue.

Lattin said officers fired stun guns at least twice but failed to stop Zambrano-Montes before using their weapons.

Zambrano-Montes' death at a busy intersection has sparked two weeks of protests in Pasco, where more than half the residents are Hispanic but few are members of the power structure or police force.

Additional protests are planned for Saturday.