Officers not to face criminal charges for farmworker's death

Three police officers in Washington state not to face charges for February shooting death of unarmed Mexican farmworker who threw rocks at them before fleeing

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Three police officers implicated in the February shooting death of an unarmed Mexican farmworker in Washington who threw rocks at them before fleeing arrest will not face criminal charges, a lawyer representing the victim's family said on Wednesday.

The Mexican farmworker Antonio Zambrano-Montes was shot dead in the southeastern farming city of Pasco in an incident that sparked outrage in a majority Latino community that has likened his death to fatal police confrontations with unarmed black men in Missouri and New York.

The family was "extremely disappointed" by the prosecutor's decision not to charge the officers in a shooting they described as "the execution of their loved one," said an attorney representing the wife and children of the slain 35-year-old.

"We are not surprised by this decision but disgusted and disappointed," added the attorney.

The shooting, which took place at a busy intersection after the farmworker threw rocks at the officers, sparked protests by demonstrators who complained Pasco police were too quick to use lethal force in the fourth killing by the police force in seven months.

Video of the incident captured by bystanders showed Zambrano-Montes fleeing from pursuing officers before turning to face them and being gunned down. The officers fired 17 times in all.

The police said two stun guns failed to subdue Zambrano-Montes during a standoff.

One of the officers, Ryan Flanagan, has since resigned while the other two, Adam Wright and Adrian Alaniz, were placed on paid leave following the incident.

The worker grappled with a series of personal tragedies before his death, including depression, methamphetamine use, joblessness after falling from a farm ladder and breaking his wrists last fall, and a house fire in the winter that nearly killed him.

Relatives of Zambrano-Montes argued in a federal lawsuit filed last week claiming more than $25 million in damages that the officers violated his civil rights and reflected illegal practices, excessive force and poor training of the city's officers.

Family members last month filed a separate $4.76 million wrongful death claim against the city.

TRTWorld and agencies