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Latest Pasco Shooting Update from Special Investigations Unit

Special Investigations Unit released latest update
Special Investigations Unit released latest update (Benton County Website)

Sgt. Ken Lattin and Prosecutor Sean Sant held a press conference Thursday with the latest updated information on the fatal shooting of Antonio Zambrano-Montes.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is made up of law enforcement from Kennewick and other police agencies, and Prosecutor Sean Sant from Franklin County.  Sgt. Lattin released the following statement, and we will provide additional information provided at the press conference.  Here is statement:  (We have used bold lettering to emphasis key points)

“Several questions were asked by reporters at last week’s media briefing that we want to update first and then talk about what is next in the investigation.

“Here are the answers to last week’s questions:

  1. The officers involved were not wearing body cameras
  2. The actual number of videos is still a growing number. All are important and will be reviewed to include all the Pasco Police cars that were working on February 10th.
  3. Whether Mr. Zambrano-Montes was in the country legally and whether there was a restraining order will be included in the case but is not necessarily pertinent information to the criminal investigation. We treat all individuals the same regardless of any legal status that they may have had.
  4. The list of involved SIU Investigators in this particular case is listed on the attached page.
  5. None of the three involved Pasco officers were certified Spanish speakers. It is possible that Spanish commands were given by the officers and the dash cam audio/video recordings from the officers may reveal that information.

Total number of witnesses at this point is approximately 40. There are only a handful of those witnesses that have been interviewed that were actual eye witnesses to the incident. The Special Hotline set up for SIU has netted about 23 calls since its inception. Of those callers, only about 3 were actually witnesses. Most were just commenting both positively and negatively about the investigation. We still need more witnesses to come forward. In the YouTube videos we can see a lot of vehicles in the area of the incident. Many have not come forward with information as to what they saw. It is also important to note that we have not been able to document what Zambrano-Montes was doing in the hours, days, and even weeks leading up to February 10th. His family and the Mission where he had been staying have confirmed that they had not seen him in two weeks. We need witnesses that can fill in those blanks.

Additionally, we need to identify the exact persons who took the cell phone videos that we all saw posted on YouTube immediately following the incident. The persons who posted the videos on social media are not necessarily the persons who took the video. It is important that we forensically collect a copy of the video from the actual device it was recorded from to preserve it as evidence.

Last Saturday and Sunday, all evidence was delivered to the Washington State Crime Lab in Cheney for analysis. The Crime Lab has placed this case as a top priority.

The case is still being actively investigated. We appreciate the trust that the public has instilled in this process. We also appreciate the respect that has been shown by the public as they express differing opinions on this case. In addition, the vast majority of the citizenry have demonstrated great respect toward Tri-City law enforcement as we continue our commitment to the safety of our community.”

In addition, Prosecutor Sant addressed the issue if federal agencies will become involved.  He said the FBI is “monitoring” the situation. Sant said the FBI has told him:

(The) resolution will determine if we (the FBI) needs to get involved.”  

Prosecutor Sant also urgently asked anyone in the Hispanic community who may have witnessed the incident but is here illegally to still come forward.  He said in this case, and in other cases in the past, witnesses who cooperate with a criminal investigation, those persons are linked to one of several Tri-City or Northwest attorneys who specialize in working to get illegals the proper documentation.  He said they don’t get citizenship or immunity, but their cooperation is made aware to Immigration officials and it is taken into account.

Sant said investigation is “far from over,” and he and Lattin said they have been in communication with the Mexican Consulate in Mexico, and they are monitoring what happens.

One of the biggest points repeatedly stressed by Lattin and Sant was the need to find out what Zambrano-Montes was doing in the hours, days and even weeks prior to the incident. As stated earlier, his family has not been able to account for his whereabouts.

Lattin said such backround information is key in determining why Zambrano was standing on the corner throwing rocks, then continued to do so after police arrived.  He said such behavior is “not normal.” Lattin said knowing what he was doing prior to events of that day can greatly help determine what Zambrano’s mindset was.

Lattin was questioned whether the SIU can provide a fair and honest assessment of the incident, and he said “we’re here to collect the facts, and “produce an impartial report.”  He stressed that no one on the force is going to risk the public trust and integrity to “cover” for an officer.  He said the officers and Zambrano “made decisions” that day which led to the incident, and it’s the SIU’s job to find out the facts and what led up to it.

Another such briefing is scheduled for next Thursday at 1:30pm.

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