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Pasco Flashes Back As New Information Surfaces In Police Shooting

Olivia Weitz
A small crowd of people in Pasco, Washington, huddles around laptops to watch some of the new videos of the police shooting of Antonio Zambrano-Montes.

The family of Antonio Zambrano-Montes -- and the Tri-Cities -- are grappling with fresh details of his death.

New documents about February’s Pasco Police shooting in southeast Washington were released this week by the Franklin County prosecutor. The data was uploaded to a website early Wednesday afternoon. There are several new videos and also a 500-page document and transcripts from witness interviews and Zambrano-Montes’ family.

People began to download it. Then digested it.

“Overwhelming,” said Cierra Trenidad, 24, of Pasco. She’s a homecare provider and a member of the newly formed group Tri-City Community Solutions. The small band has been protesting for Pasco Police accountability.

“There's a lot of information that I could see,” Trenidad said. “I haven't been able to look at all of it, but still there's more information that we would have liked them to release all of it.”

Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant said this is just the first release of information collected since the February shooting. A second batch of information is scheduled to be released next Wednesday.

New details emerging

These are some of the facts emerging in this first hefty batch of documents and eyewitness videos from the scene.

Tasers were used by police. A coroner’s report found a Taser probe in his left forearm and one in the back of his head. An eyewitness told an officer he was plucking out the barbs like pebbles.

Bullets were flying. Police fired 17 rounds. Seven hit Zambrano-Montes. One bullet blasted through a window and struck a soda refrigerator at a nearby Metro Mart.

Eight videos released this week caught the hunt. Bystanders describe children being everywhere that afternoon. In the videos, you can see people standing outside their cars near a Mexican café and a supermarket.

But there are conflicting accounts of Zambrano-Montes’ interactions with the police before he ran across the intersection and they shot.

Police turned in rocks found at the scene. And there was blood found on one.

Some witnesses told police Antonio Zambrano-Montes threw a rock at a police officer. Others said Zambrano was running away with his hands up as if to surrender.

Sant has acknowledged that somewhere near 100 gigabytes of information is a lot to sort out. He has yet to announce any charges against the police officers. And a county coroner’s inquest is still to come.

Zambrano-Montes' state of mind

Antonio Zambrano-Montes had a lot to sort out in his life. That’s according to his family members in recorded interviews.

He had broken his hands around six months before the shooting. He’d been out of work recovering and he was in a lot of pain. His aunt said he hadn’t seen his girls in nearly 10 years.

His cousin told detectives Zambrano-Montes had been using methamphetamines when he had been depressed. And a toxicology report showed meth in his body when he died.

Agapita Montes Rivera, Zambrano-Montes’ mother, dabbed her eyes with a white washcloth Tuesday. It was just after she had been sequestered into the prosecutor’s office to watch graphic videos of her son’s death. The prosecutor wanted her to see them before they were released publicly.

Facing a scrum of reporters her face was solemn, taut. Through an interpreter she said she has a lot of memories of her son.

“He was really joyful,” she said. “Especially when he was with us.”

She and her husband, now like everyone else, have new information. And at the county courthouse in Pasco, they watched their son die. Again.

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Sandra Gutierrez and Olivia Weitz contributed to this story.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.