Family of unarmed man shot by police in Washington sues

AP News
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Posted: Sep 03, 2015 4:44 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The wife and children of a Mexican man shot to death by police in Pasco, Washington, after throwing rocks have filed a federal lawsuit against the city and other defendants.

Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, was unarmed when he was shot to death on a busy street in downtown Pasco on Feb. 10. Videos of the shooting went viral, and the incident sparked weeks of protests in the agricultural city of 68,000 people.

"There is no dispute that Antonio was shot and killed by the officers," said attorney George Trejo Jr., of Yakima, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Teresa DeJesus Meraz and her two young daughters. "A criminal jury from the community should be empaneled to determine if the killing was justified."

The lawsuit filed Thursday named the city, the Pasco Police Department, the police chief and the three officers involved, among other people. It sought in excess of $25 million in damages for unlawful and unreasonable use of deadly force and deprivation of life without due process, among other allegations.

Franklin County Attorney Shawn Sant did not return telephone and email messages from The Associated Press for comment on the lawsuit.

Sant is still deciding if charges will be brought against the three police officers involved in the shooting.

Trejo criticized the delay in the charging decision.

"The criminal investigation has been complete for approximately two months," Trejo said.

Meanwhile, the parents of Zambrano-Montes in July also filed a claim seeking nearly $4.8 million from the city of Pasco. Attorney Charles Herrmann filed that claim on behalf of Agapita Montes Rivera and Jesus Zambrano Fernandez, along with Zambrano-Montes' two daughters. The girls, ages 13 and 15, live in California with their mother.

Zambrano-Montes was an orchard worker from Mexico who was in the U.S. illegally. He was shot seven times by three officers during the confrontation.

Officers fired 17 times at Zambrano-Montes, who investigators say was high on methamphetamine and hurling rocks at motorists and police.

Pasco is about 130 miles southwest of Spokane.

Police and eyewitnesses have described Zambrano-Montes repeatedly yelling at officers to shoot him.

A stun gun failed to subdue him before he was killed

According to previously-released court documents, Zambrano-Montes was holding a large rock and drew back his arm as if he was going to throw it when police officers opened fire and killed him.

Police Officer Adam Wright has said he decided to shoot because he feared officers or members of the public would be injured or killed by the rock.

Cellphone video showed the three officers chasing the man before shooting him as he turned around.

One officer, Ryan Flanagan, has resigned in a move his lawyer has said was unrelated to the shooting. The other two, Wright and Adrian Alaniz, remain on paid leave.

Police interviews with relatives of Zambrano-Montes portrayed him as a troubled soul who suffered from depression and drug abuse, had made several suicide attempts and had violent run-ins with Pasco police in recent years.