Questions have been raised about a police shooting in Washington state as an unarmed Hispanic orchard worker who allegedly threw rocks was fatally shot by Pasco police officers on Tuesday. One of the officers involved has a history with allegations of excessive force.
The Franklin County Coroner told the Associated Press on Friday that he decided to order an inquest into the shooting, saying he wanted to be as transparent as possible about the process. “The main thing is we don’t want another Ferguson in Pasco,” the coroner, Dan Blasdel, said.
The family has filed a $25 million claim against the city, alleging that officers used excessive force and it was based in part on the fact that 35-year-old Antonio Zambrano-Montes was Hispanic. The town of Paco, population of 68,000 according to recent census data, is more than half Hispanic, and the authorities hope to place at least three Hispanics on the six-person inquiry panel planned into the shooting.
“Antonio Zambrano-Montes was not armed with a gun or knife,” said Kennewick Police Sgt. Ken Lattin, a spokesman for law enforcement told NBC News. “We all know based on the videos we’ve watched on social media that he did at one point at least have a rock in his hand and threw that rock. The investigation continues on whether he was armed with a rock at the time that he was shot.”
Investigators are gathering evidence, including dash-cam video, citizen-recorded cell phone videos, and interviews with some 40 witnesses. Protests are planned for the weekend to draw attention to the shooting.
One of the officers involved in the shooting had previously settled a claim against the city in 2013 for $100,000. That civil rights lawsuit alleged that the police was inadequately trained in use of force or in confrontations with people on the street. The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on leave. This is the fourth fatal police shooting in the small agricultural town since last summer.
Watch the raw video, which NBC News published: