With the completion of a second independent autopsy of the body of Antonio Zambrano-Montes on Friday morning, plans are under way to return his body to Mexico.
The Mexican government expects his body to be returned to his hometown in Michoacan state, Mexico, late next week.
The consul of Mexico in Seattle, Eduardo Baca Cuenca, made a special trip to Pasco on Friday to meet with family members and community leaders. He joined the Franklin County prosecutor, police chief and city manager to discuss the ongoing investigation by the Tri-City Special Investigations Unit.
Videos shot by witnesses of Zambrano’s Feb. 10 shooting by police have gone viral, drawing condemnation around the world. Mexican President Enrique Peña has called it a “disproportionate use of lethal force.”
Baca is satisfied with the investigation so far, but noted that it is very early in the process, he said. He cited concerns of past investigations in the United States involving law enforcement officers, particularly border agents, who were not disciplined.
Since 2009, at least nine people — including a teenager shot in the back of the head — have been killed for throwing rocks, according to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol statistics.
“There is that similarity,” Baca said. “The issue of having a rock and whether a rock is the same as having a firearm or knife.”
Baca also asked for more clarity on Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel’s plans to conduct a special inquest that would allow a jury of six to determine the cause and manner of death.
Pasco City Manager Dave Zabell described the meetings with Baca as a healthy exchange of ideas. They discussed ways to integrate Latinos more into the community and improve ties with the police force.
Zabell mentioned the possibility of a citizen’s academy in Spanish, where members of the Latino community could learn more about the department.
“It’s not to turn them into police officers, but to heighten awareness of the department and its mission,” he said.
Zambrano came to the United States about a decade ago from a small village in Michoacan state with only about 16 homes, Baca said. The town has no roads or running water. The closest town is two hours away on foot.
“It’s a very small community in a very tough economic situation,” Baca said.