News conference updates investigation into Zambrano-Montes shoot - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

News conference updates investigation into Zambrano-Montes shooting death

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35-Year-Old Antonio Zambrano-Montes was shot and killed by police Feb. 10, 2015 35-Year-Old Antonio Zambrano-Montes was shot and killed by police Feb. 10, 2015
Zambrano-Montes in deadly showdown with Pasco police Zambrano-Montes in deadly showdown with Pasco police
Zambrano-Montes in deadly showdown with Pasco police Zambrano-Montes in deadly showdown with Pasco police
Zambrano-Montes in deadly showdown with Pasco police Zambrano-Montes in deadly showdown with Pasco police
PASCO, Wash. - Thursday afternoon police and prosecutors held a joint news conference to update the investigation into the death of Antonio Zambrano-Montes. Zambrano-Montes was shot and killed Feb. 10 by Pasco police officers.

Thursday's news conference was hosted by Kennewick police Sergeant Ken Lattin, spokesperson for the Special Investigative Unit that is heading this investigation. Joining him at the podium was Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant.

It was clear that the message for Sgt. Lattin and Sant was that they need more witnesses to come forward. If anyone knows anything, has pictures, has video, has any information at all they need to come forward. Sant said one problem his office is having is that "some witnesses are hesitant to come forward" due to possibly being in the U.S. illegally. Sant addressed that by say that "there is a process in my office that we use for victims of a crime, or witnesss. It doesn't grant citizenship, but it's a tool that shows cooperation, and that goes a long way."

Sgt. Lattin continually pushed the importance of not only witnesses, but also people who may have seen Zambrano-Montes in the hours leading up to the incident. "His actions were not normal," Lattin said. "None of you would stand in front of cars and throw rocks at them, and then throw rocks at police when they show up. That's not normal. We just want to know what was going on."

We also learned that Zambrano-Montes' body has not been released to his family. Law enforcement is holding the body for further investigation. They will conduct a second autopsy in the near future, but no specific dates were given. Prosecutor Sant was asked whether Zambrano-Montes' family's pending $25 million dollar civil lawsuit against the city of Pasco will affect his investigation he said absolutely not. Sant also said he has not spoken personally with the family. He says he'd like to, and will when the family is ready.

Sgt. Lattin said this case has the highest priority at the state level. He also state the State Labs has prioritized this case.

Sgt. Lattin also talked about video of the actual shooting. He said none of the officers were wearing body cameras. When asked how many officers fired on Zambrano-Montes, Sgt. Lattin said, "based on what you see in the youtube video, it appears that all three officers fired. That is inconclusive. That's just what we see on social media."

When asked whether his office could fairly investigate the Pasco Police Department, Sgt. Lattin said "we're going to produce a report that is impartial and full of integrity. That's what the citizens pay us to do. We're not going to put our integrity, and our jobs, our livelihoods, on the line to protect some officer's actions."

As for outside help, or concerns, Sgt. Lattin said the FBI is aware of this shooting, and is monitoring this shooting, but has not yet made any move to take over the investigation. Prosecutor Sant said the Mexican consulate has reached out to him and he says he plans to meet with them.

Lattin was also asked about how the officers are doing, and whether there is pushback from the community. Lattin responded by say he's urging his officers to police compassionately. "regardless of what anyone may say to you,"Lattin said, "do the right thing. Show everyone who we are. We can be fair, we can be just."

Sant weighed in as well saying that most people "recognize this will take time, but we will be as thorough as possible. I take that very seriously. And frankly I think all law enforcement, particularly the officers involved in this investigation, take that very seriously. We give information out, but we want to protect the integrity of the investigation."

Both men said they plan on conducting weekly briefings for the media, the next one being set for Thursday, February 26.


PREVIOUS COVERAGE:
It's been more than a week since 35-year-old Antonio Zambrano-Montes was shot and killed by Pasco police officers, who were responding after a 911 caller reporting he was throwing rocks at cars. At 1:30pm on Thursday law enforcement plan to hold a news conference to update their investigation.


The investigation started around 4pm February 10th in Pasco. That's when officers found Zambrano-Montes throwing rocks at cars. When they tried talk to him, he threw rocks at officers, striking two of them, Police Chief Bob Metzger said. A taser was used to no effect, and, according to officers, they only opened fire when they felt physically threatened.

This week Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel confirmed there will be a coroners' inquest into his death. The inquest is similar to a grand jury but will be open to the public and media: A jury of six people — half of them Latino — will see and hear the results of the investigation as presented by the prosecutor, Blasdel said. There is no defense attorney cross examination and the jury will then decide whether the shooting was justified. The prosecutor, however, still makes the final decision on whether to pursue the case.

Blasdel says it will be about eight weeks before the investigation — being handled by detectives and officers from other departments and the Washington State Police — is complete, so the inquest would occur in about two months.
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