Washington Shooting Victim Was Unarmed, Except For Rocks
ARUN RATH, HOST:
Taking you now to the city of Pasco, Wash; the scene of a controversial police shooting captured on video. Earlier this month, a 35-year-old farm worker from Mexico named Antonio Zambrano-Montes was throwing rocks at cars on a busy street corner. Police say that when they arrived, Zambrano-Montes threw rocks in their direction. Officers tried to use a Taser to bring down Zambrano-Montes. It didn't work. Offers then opened fire. At that point, Zambrano-Montes fled across the street. Just as he turned around, officers opened fire a second time.
(SOUNDBITE OF GUNSHOTS)
RATH: Then Zambrano-Montes fell to the ground and died. On the video, that's when witnesses start yelling that he did not have a serious weapon.
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UNIDENTIFIED WITNESS: That was just a rock. It's a rock.
RATH: There's an ongoing investigation into the incident, but the case has sparked protests in the city of Pasco, including one scheduled for today. And Mexico's president has publicly condemned the killing. Earlier, I spoke with Daniel Rivero. He's a reporter and producer with Fusion. We reached him in Pasco, and I asked him how people there have reacted to the news.
DANIEL RIVERO: The reaction has been a little bit muted. I mean, to be honest, I came out here expecting to see picketing and some protests. And what I found is really quiet. I mean, there's a core group of protesters and activists who camped out every day in front of City Hall, and they usually number around five or six.
RATH: And, you know, a lot of people and a lot of news outlets, including The New York Times, have drawn parallels between what happened in Pasco and the shooting in Ferguson, Mo. You say you've seen little protests, though, and you actually asked the question in one of your pieces - why aren't they protesting here? What's the reason?
RIVERO: One of the main reasons that I think we haven't seen a wide-scale protesting is that there's a really large Hispanic community here, and a big handful of that community is people who are here that are undocumented. So within that community, there is a certain fear of deportation. And beyond that, I mean, it seems like the family just doesn't seem to have that in their hearts. I spoke with many members of the family the other night, and they're praying on their rosaries, and they're more focused on getting the body of their family member to burry than it seems like they are mounting large-scale protests.
RATH: You write about how Pasco is majority Latino but Latinos are underrepresented in the police force and in the city government generally. Can you talk about how that has affected the situation?
RIVERO: Pasco is about 57 percent Latino, and there's currently only one Latino councilmember in the city commission. I talked with the city manager the other day, and he told me that they're in the midst of redistricting and that there's going to be couple new districts that are going to be drawn up that will be Latino majority. According to the city manager, he said the awareness of that and the fact that there is a shift of power coming as far as Latino politics in the city might have something to do with the muted response. People aren't angry because they see themselves already being brought into the process.
RATH: Do people there have faith that the police will investigate this shooting fairly?
RIVERO: A lot of people who I have spoken to seem to have faith that this will be an accurate and fair investigation. Now there are some people, who I've spoken to, who feel that they're planting the seeds for a character assassination and to kind of pick apart the character of Mr. Zambrano-Montes so there is a little bit of skepticism.
The group Consejo Latino is a local business group, and they chime in with social issues every once in a while. They've called for the Department of Justice to do an investigation, and they told me that they've also been talking to the U.S. attorney, who represents eastern Washington, and that he's coming here in the coming days to talk with members of the community as well as the police. And the head of the investigative unit that's looking at this in the Tri-City area said that he's in contact with the FBI, and that they're monitoring the situation. But there's no indication that there's going to be an outside investigation at this point.
RATH: That's Daniel Rivero. He's a producer and reporter with Fusion, and he joined us from Pasco, Wash. Daniel, thanks very much.
RIVERO: Thanks for having me.
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