Family files $6.4 million claim over Washington state police shooting

Family files $6.4 million claim over Washington state police shooting
PHOTO: The Star/ANN

WASHINGTON - The family of a Mexican immigrant farmworker shot dead by police in Washington state after he threw rocks at them in the agricultural hub of Pasco has filed a US$4.76 million (S$6.4 million) wrongful death claim against the town.

The Mexico-based parents of 35-year-old Antonio Zambrano-Montes filed the claim with the city of about 68,000 residents on Thursday on behalf of the undocumented immigrant's two teenage daughters.

The February shooting death of Zambrano-Montes triggered steady protests in a Latino majority farming community less than 200 miles (322 km) southeast of Seattle, where activists likened his death to police slayings of unarmed black men in Missouri and New York that led to massive protests across the country.

Police have said officers responding to a report of a man throwing rocks at passing cars shot Zambrano-Montes 17 times after he began pelting them with rocks and ignored commands to surrender.

The claim submitted on behalf of the family by Seattle-based attorney Charles Herrmann said Zambrano-Montes was essentially executed by the officers. "Immediately prior to his execution, Antonio suffered extreme pre-death fright, terror and pain as the officers pursued him when he attempted to flee," the claim said, adding that a fatal shot severed the man's carotid artery. "In the final moments of this execution, Antonio did not represent a threat of grievous bodily harm to anyone," according to the family's claim.

Herrmann could not be reached for additional comment on Friday.

Under Washington state law, a claim must be filed before a lawsuit can be brought against a government entity.

Pasco City Manager Dave Zabell said the municipality does not comment on pending litigation against the city.

Zambrano-Montes' confrontation with police was captured on video, and in February Herrmann said that it showed that at the moment the immigrant was killed he did not pose a threat to officers.

Herrmann said then that a US$25 million claim filed against the city on Feb. 13 by a previous attorney had been withdrawn because it was submitted prematurely.

Zambrano-Montes' family and civil rights groups have called for a federal probe.

A coroner's inquest will likely be launched later this year, after which Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Shawn Sant will decide whether to bring charges against the officers.

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