Washington state farmworker yelled ‘kill me’ before he was shot: officer
One of three police officers who shot dead a rock-throwing Mexican farmworker in Washington state earlier this year told investigators the man, after being repeatedly ordered to drop softball-sized rocks, yelled “No, kill me … kill me.”
Pasco Police Department officer Adrian Alaniz was one of three patrolmen who opened fire on Antonio Zambrano-Montes at a busy intersection in the southeastern agricultural city on Feb. 10 after he pelted them with rocks, according to police.
The Latino-majority community in the area likened Zambrano-Montes’ death to police slayings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York, and launched street demonstrations denouncing the use of lethal force.
In an interview after the incident, Alaniz told investigators he yelled “Hey, drop the rocks … drop the fucking rocks,” during a tense standoff with Zambrano-Montes, who was behaving erratically.
“So he starts shuffling towards me … he’s yelling ‘No, kill me, bitch, kill me, kill me,'” Alaniz said, adding that Zambrano-Montes was speaking in Spanish, and that he was afraid the unemployed farmworker was going to strike him.
The comments were included in a collection of video footage, photos, and interviews with police and witnesses conducted after the incident by a special investigative unit and released by Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Shawn Sant on Wednesday.
A coroner’s inquest will likely be launched later this year, after which Sant will decide whether to bring charges against the officers.
George Trejo, an attorney representing Zambrano-Montes’ family, said he did not say “kill me.”
“There is audio. Antonio is not heard saying that,” Trejo said, adding he discussed the evidence with Sant.
Zambrano-Montes’ family and civil rights groups have called for a federal probe. Zambrano-Montes spoke little English and wrestled with drug abuse and personal tragedy.
In the documents released on Wednesday, multiple witnesses denounced what they described as overly harsh tactics. They included some whose emotional reactions were captured on video and others who were interviewed by police. None said the officers were in grave danger.
Another officer who arrived after the shooting told an investigator a witness told him Zambrano-Montes repeatedly said: “Just shoot me.”
Police said two stun guns failed to subdue Zambrano-Montes, who died after being hit by 17 shots. Alaniz fired once, hitting him in the buttocks.
Sant did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The city of Pasco declined to comment.