Pasco residents will get a chance to voice their thoughts on the police department Aug. 22, when the U.S. Department of Justice releases the results of a yearlong review driven by the 2015 shooting of an unarmed man by three officers.
Justice Department and Pasco officials will talk about the review — conducted by the federal agency’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS — during a public session from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the police training center, 204 W. Clark St.
The results will guide police department training to improve relations with citizens, officials have said.
Michael Ormsby, the U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington, will be joined at the public session by Noble Wray, the Justice Department’s chief of policing practices and accountability initiatives, as well as Pasco Police Chief Robert Metzger and Pasco City Manager Dave Zabell.
The review followed the Feb. 10, 2015, death of Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, who died after three officers shot at him 17 times. Zambrano-Montes, an immigrant farmworker, had been throwing rocks and was high on methamphetamine at the time.
Local and federal prosecutors declined to charge the three officers — Adrian Alaniz, Ryan Flanagan and Adam Wright. Those decisions have been challenged.
Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant said the officers were “acting in good faith and without malice,” while Ormsby said there was insufficient evidence of criminal intent to win a conviction. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee asked the state attorney general to review the case.
At the federal level, the chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights asked Ormsby’s boss, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, to review the decision.
Zambrano-Montes’ family has filed federal civil rights lawsuits against the city.
The Aug. 22 meeting is the first of two upcoming opportunities for the public to scrutinize the events that led to the shooting.
Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel intends to conduct a public inquest at Columbia Basin College before Thanksgiving.
The oft-delayed inquest is currently awaiting final budget approval from the elected Franklin County Commission. Blasdel previously secured $25,000 for the inquest. A visiting prosecutor had offered to conduct the inquest at no cost, but a scheduling conflict forced Blasdel to hire an outside attorney.
He needs an additional $7,000 to pay an attorney to lead the public review.
“The plan is once that’s approved, we will proceed with the inquest this fall,” Blasdel said.