Lawyers for Antonio Zambrano-Montes’ family members called the decision not to charge the police officers who killed him “disappointing” and vowed to seek justice through federal lawsuits.
High-profile attorneys Charles Herrmann, Jose Baez and Benjamin Crump are representing the parents of Zambrano-Montes, who live in Mexico.
They have filed a claim against the city of Pasco for $4.76 million and plan to file a lawsuit next week.
Baez, a prominent Florida civil rights attorney, released a statement saying Sant’s decision has no effect on the civil case and that lawyers are prepared to try the case in federal court.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“This forces us to seek justice for Antonio and his family in a different forum, one of the family’s choosing, not in the police home court,” the statement said.
Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant announced Wednesday that Pasco officers Adrian Alaniz, Ryan Flanagan and Adam Wright acted “in good faith and without malice” when they killed Zambrano-Montes, 35, on Feb. 10.
“It is my sincere hope that, whether we can see these events from one perspective or many, as a community we can come together and begin the healing process,” Sant said.
People who attended the standing-room only news conference often interrupted Sant as he read from his eight-page statement, then argued with him about the decision during a 40-minute question-and-answer period.
“This blood is on your hands,” someone yelled, with another person adding Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger to that statement.
“What respect did Antonio get?” people shouted. “You shot at him while he was running away.”
A family member in the crowd asked how Sant could say the officers were acting in good faith by firing 17 shots at Zambrano-Montes.
“You can’t justify somebody’s life,” she said.
Herrmann, a Seattle-area attorney who handles wrongful death cases, released a statement Wednesday saying that he was “sorely disappointed” and “sharply disagrees” with the charging decision.
“(Sant) may have done what he thinks is right, but this matter demands a truly neutral court where a totally impartial jury can render a just and final decision,” Herrmann said.
The widow and two daughters of Zambrano-Montes are represented by Yakima attorney George P. Trejo Jr., who said Sant displayed a lack of courage by not filing charges.
Trejo has filed a federal lawsuit seeking more than $25 million in damages and will ask the U.S. Attorney’s Office to step in and criminally charge the officers.
“(Sant’s) claim that there is insufficient evidence to establish any crime beyond a reasonable doubt is a pretext for his decision to protect law enforcement from the very beginning of this case,” Trejo said. “We are not surprised by this decision, but disgusted and disappointed.”