Attorneys representing the parents of a man shot by Pasco police in February are disappointed in what they’ve seen so far in investigative documents of the shooting.
But they said a Tuesday afternoon meeting with Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant was productive and they are reserving judgment until he decides whether to charge the officers involved.
Sant turned over 90 gigabytes of information, including videos, 1,700 pages of forensic reports and other photos and documents, to the family of Antonio Zambrano-Montes ahead of the meeting, attorneys Jose Baez and Charles Herrmann said during a news conference.
However, they did not get everything. The Tri-City Special Investigations Unit’s report was 94 gigabytes, and it’s unknown what was withheld.
Sant is expected to release part of the investigative files to the public today, though it’s unclear whether it will include everything provided to Zambrano-Montes’ family.
Sant also fielded questions from Zambrano-Montes’ parents, Jesus Fernandez-Zambrano and Agapita Montes-Rivera, who came from Mexico for the meeting.
“I think (Sant) was as open as he possibly could be,” Baez said.
Sant told them he has not made a decision on whether to pursue charges against the officers who fired 17 shots at Zambrano-Montes in front of a bakery in downtown Pasco.
The attorneys and parents declined to give specifics of what was discussed during the meeting and what they’ve seen from the investigation file, citing a confidentiality agreement required by Sant.
Herrmann said Sant has done a good job of keeping the Zambrano-Montes’ family informed, and Baez added that Tuesday’s meeting was positive because it was an opportunity to have questions answered.
“It wasn’t a love session in there,” Baez said. “We were asking tough questions and he was giving tough answers.”
But the attorneys said concerns they had about the investigation before receiving the file still stand.
Hermann said the officers involved weren’t interviewed until seven weeks after the shooting, and no one has indicated what information they had access to before they were questioned.
The investigation file hasn’t been fully read, but “the limited portion that we’ve reviewed, which is critical, is quite disappointing,” Baez said.
Zambrano-Montes’ parents, who described their son as a very kind and unselfish person, said in Spanish they are prepared for the long haul to learn why their son was killed.
“It doesn’t matter how long it takes,” his mother said through a translator. “We expect justice; we want justice done.”
Zambrano-Montes, 35, was a Mexican national who was a farm worker in the Mid-Columbia. The Feb. 10 shooting came after police say Zambrano-Montes threw rocks at them.
He died after being hit by five to seven shots at the crowded intersection. The shooting was captured on cellphone video and viewed worldwide online.
Pasco officers Ryan Flanagan, Adam Wright and Adrian Alaniz have been on paid administrative leave since the shooting. Flanagan is resigning effective July 2.
In addition to the independent investigation by officers from other Tri-City police agencies, the Pasco Police Department is conducting an internal review of the incident.
Herrmann, a Seattle attorney, represents Zambrano-Montes’ parents with Florida attorneys Baez and Ben Crump. Zambrano-Montes’ widow and two daughters are represented by George Trejo Jr. of Yakima.
The case has drawn outrage from across the country and in Mexico, and led to months of mostly peaceful protests in the city. There also have been calls for Sant to be removed from the case, though the state attorney general and Gov. Jay Inslee have refused to do so.
Sant received the file from the special investigations unit in late May. It also has been forwarded to the FBI.
No timeline for a decision on whether to charge the officers has been announced and is likely to be delayed until a special coroner’s inquest is held by Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel.
Baez said he understands the work that prosecutors and police must do in these investigations and, “It’s complex to track down a crime scene of that size and takes time to do correctly.”
However, Herrmann said, it still took far longer than needed for the investigation to wrap up, and the fact it was done by fellow police in neighboring jurisdictions raises serious questions about whether it was done impartially.
The case has significant national importance, the attorneys said, and they say they’ll discuss that more as soon as Sant makes a charging decision.
Herrmann said they are conducting their own investigation and that a claim against the city of Pasco is possible in the coming weeks.