An attorney representing the family of a Mexican man fatally shot by police in Pasco, Washington, this month on Thursday said an independent autopsy contradicts a task force spokesman who said none of the bullets struck Antonio Zambrano-Montes from behind.
Seattle attorney Charles Herrmann, who is representing Zambrano-Montes’ widow and two daughters, said a second autopsy found that two bullets struck the 35-year-old orchard worker from behind — once in the rear of his right arm and once in the left buttocks.
On Wednesday, Kennewick Police Sgt. Ken Lattin, a spokesman for a task force investigating the shooting, told reporters that preliminary autopsy information indicates none of the 17 shots struck Zambrano-Montes in the back and that he was hit by five or six rounds.
Asked if Zambrano-Montes was shot in the back of the leg or another body part, Lattin said, "He was not shot in the back. No part of his body was he shot in the back." He cautioned the final report was not complete.
Zambrano-Montes was shot at around 5 p.m. on Feb. 10, after police said he threw rocks at passing cars and then at police officers.
"The body bore as many as 8 entrance wounds, 2 of which were definitely on his backside," Herrmann said in a statement. Herrmann also criticized the police for not immediately interviewing the three Pasco police officers who fired at Zambrano-Montes. Lattin has said investigators want to gather all the evidence before interviewing the officers.
The shooting was captured on video by bystanders and posted to social media. The video appears to show Zambrano-Montes moving away from officers before he was shot.
The shooting has prompted protests in Pasco, a town of about 68,000 people of which a little more than half are Hispanic. The Mexican government has criticized the shooting as an unwarranted use of deadly force, and the American Civil Liberties Union this week asked for the federal government to get involved.
Lattin referred questions about the attorney’s claims to Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Shawn Sant.
Sant said in a statement that his office was aware of the second autopsy findings, but said neither report is complete.
"Our office is waiting for complete reports from both pathologists before making any conclusions," Sant said. He added that questions as to the exact number of gunshot wounds and bullet trajectories should be answered once those reports are in.
— Phil Helsel