Zambrano-Montes Shooting Update: Washington Governor Refuses to Remove Prosecutor From Police Shooting Probe
Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington denied a request made by the Latino advocacy group Consejo Latino to remove Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant from an investigation into the Feb. 10 deadly shooting of a Mexican orchard worker named Antonio Zambrano-Montes.
Zambrano-Montes, a 35-year-old undocumented immigrant, was shot at by three Pasco police officers last month in an altercation that was caught on video.
Zambrano-Montes had been throwing rocks at the police.
The death of the illegal farm worker has triggered weeks of demonstrations in a Latino-majority farming community about 200 miles southeast of Seattle.
As reported in Reuters, Inslee asserted the prosecutors were obligated to fully investigate and prosecute crimes unless there were some "very specific, tangible and compelling reasons" offered.
The governor wrote the group, "I am not confident that those reasons have been established at this point in the ongoing investigation."
Inslee stipulated he was "deeply troubled" by the death and was open to considering the request at a later time should the appropriate facts and circumstances come up.
Zambrano-Montes spoke little English and was said to be personally plagued with drug problems. In the months before the deadly incident, he had lost his house to a fire.
According to the police, Zambrano-Montes ignored their commands to surrender and was unfazed by a stun gun.
The killing of Zambrano-Montes marked the fourth fatal police shooting in seven months in the community of 68,000 residents. More than half the community is Latino, and the police force is mostly white.
Commenting on Inslee’s choice not to remove Sant from the case, Felix Vargas, the chairman of Consejo Latino, said, "While the governor's decision is a little disappointing, we can take satisfaction in his assurances that he wants to ensure there is a thorough and objective investigation."