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Man who threw rocks shot dead by three Washington officers

Posted at 6:09 PM, Feb 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-12 18:14:56-05

PASCO, Wa. — The police shooting death of a man who allegedly hurled rocks at vehicles and officers in Pasco, Washington, has sparked anger at what some say is another example of police brutality and excessive force.About 100 protesters marched outside Pasco City Hall Wednesday, with some chanting “It was only a rock,” CNN affiliate KEPR reported. Later in the evening, more protesters took to the intersection where the shooting occurred.

Police say the man — who was later identified as Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35 — had allegedly been throwing rocks at cars and trucks when he was confronted by officers.

Officers attempted “voice commands and low level force,” and used a taser, police said, but those efforts were unsuccessful.

After two officers were struck with rocks — at least one of them as large as a softball — police said the officers resorted to deadly force.

A video posted on YouTube shows Zambrano running across a street with police in pursuit before he was fatally shot.

Zambrano’s family and protesters are pushing for answers. His cousins were in the crowd outside City Hall Wednesday. They told reporters Zambrano wouldn’t have been able to understand the commands.

“He didn’t understand English and they were talking to him in English,” one cousin said. “Why not get a Hispanic officer?”

A witness, Juan Rodriguez, told KEPR that Zambrano was “telling them to stop… but then the cops, they didn’t listen and they just shot him. All three cops started shooting him.”

The shooting is under investigation by other law enforcement agencies outside the Pasco Police Department, the department said in a statement, and the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.

Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel said Zambrano’s shooting death was the fourth fatal officer-involved shooting in the area in the past six months. According to the Tri-City Herald, officers were cleared in the other three shootings.

The coroner said his office would conduct a separate inquest in the Zambrano case with six community members after the law enforcement investigation is complete.

“I’m looking at doing an inquest because it’s so controversial to the community,” he told CNN. “It takes the burden off the law enforcement and puts it in the hands of the citizens, and puts the facts in public. They can decide if it was justifiable based on the facts of the case.”

The results of the law enforcement investigation will be sent to the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office, which will consider whether to file charges against the officers.

They were identified as Ryan Flanagan, a nine-year veteran; Adam Wright, a firearms instructor with eight years’ experience; and Adrian Alaniz, who has two years on the job.

The shooting comes in a period of strained police-community relations following the police-involved deaths last summer of Eric Garner, 43, on Staten Island in New York and Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Missouri.

The medical examiner ruled Garner’s July 17 death a homicide due to compression of his neck and chest when he was taken down by an officer using a chokehold. His death sparked street protests, a review of police procedures and calls for a federal civil rights investigation. A grand jury declined to prosecute Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the case.

A few weeks later, Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson shot Brown after an altercation in the street. The death of Brown, who was unarmed, thrust into the forefront the issue of law enforcement’s use of deadly force. A grand jury declined to prosecute Wilson, a decision that led to national demonstrations.