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A man fatally shot by police after allegedly throwing rocks at officers in Pasco, Washington, this week had no weapons other than stones, authorities said as they pledged a fair and unbiased investigation into the shooting.
Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, was killed shortly after 5 p.m. (8 p.m. ET) Tuesday by police officers after he allegedly pelted them with rocks, striking two of them. Police said they tried to use a Taser but it had no effect. Video taken by bystanders appears to show the officers open fire as Zambrano-Montes was moving away from them.
"Antonio Zambrano-Montes was not armed with a gun or knife," said Kennewick Police Sgt. Ken Lattin, a spokesman for a multi-agency law enforcement unit investigating the shooting. "We all know based on the videos we've watched on social media that he did at one point at least have a rock in his hand and threw that rock. The investigation continues on whether he was armed with a rock at the time that he was shot.”
Lattin said the videos taken of the incident will be an important part of the investigation. Investigators are collecting dashcam video and police radio transmissions, and have located at around 40 witnesses. They are also looking for anyone else who may have recorded the shooting.
Mexico’s consul in Seattle characterized the shooting as "the unwarranted use of lethal force against an unarmed Mexican national," in a letter to Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger.
Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel is considering calling a coroner’s inquest to determine whether the shooting was justified. His office said Friday that Zambrano-Montes died of gunshot wounds to the torso but did not say how many times he was struck.
The three Pasco police officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave.
"Those three officers are going to have to live by their decisions," Lattin said. "Was what they did right? Was it wrong? That will come out later on."
On Friday, Zambrano-Montes' ex-wife and his two daughters filed a notice to sue the city for $25 million, and claiming he was "no danger to these officers," NBC station KNDO/KNDU reported.