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Inquest Into Pasco Shooting To Be Run By Well-Known Farmworker Advocate

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Lupe Gamboa
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From left to right Mario Obledo, Lupe Gamboa and Michael Fox gathered in Seattle for an awards ceremony in the 1980s. Gamboa and Fox were arrested in the 70s for trespassing to visit farmworkers. Obledo represented them in that case.

It’s been more than 18 months since Pasco police shot and killed Antonio Zambrano Montes. For most of that time a coroner, a prosecutor and the Franklin County Commissioners have argued over whether to conduct an inquest.

It’s now scheduled for the week of December 12 at Columbia Basin College in Pasco.

The deputy coroner for the Franklin County inquest will be Michael Fox. This week, the Franklin County Commissioners approved $35,000 to pay him. Fox speaks fluent Spanish and was a Superior Court Judge with King County from 1988 to 2011. Before that, he was a lawyer working with the United Farm Workers union and a legal advocacy group in Seattle.

In 1971 Fox was arrested for trespassing on a farm in Walla Walla to visit some Mexican-American farmworkers who wanted their pay and better living conditions. The state ultimately ruled that farmworkers, like tenants, could invite visitors, even if they lived in a private farm labor camp.

Fox will present evidence about Zambrano Montes’ death to a jury. Any decision they make about whether the shooting was justified can’t compel any further legal action. County coroners’ inquests are allowed under Washington state law to examine the circumstances of suspicious deaths.

Zambrano Montes was shot and killed after he had been throwing rocks in a busy intersection in downtown Pasco.

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.