Nicholas K. Geranios / AP Photo

Attorney: Autopsy shows Pasco police shot man from behind

Lawyer says autopsy shows Antonio Zambrano-Montes was hit by seven bullets, two from behind, by police in Pasco

An unarmed man fatally shot by police in Washington state after he pelted them with rocks and tried to flee was struck as many as seven times, including two shots from behind, contrary to police accounts, a family attorney said on Thursday.    

Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, an unemployed orchard worker from Mexico's Michoacan state, was killed earlier this month in the city of Pasco in Washington state's agricultural heartland, in a shooting captured on video.

His death sparked protests by demonstrators who accused Pasco police of overly aggressive tactics in dealing with Hispanic residents, who make up a majority of the city's population. They likened the incident to two high-profile deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City.

Video taken by a witness shows Zambrano-Montes running from Pasco officers. As the officers draw closer, he stops, briefly turns and raises his arm. Multiple pops are heard and then he falls to the ground. 

Agapita Montes-Rivera, Zambrano-Montes’ mother, told Al Jazeera’s Jose Cedeno that she is stunned by what happened.

"People come here to make a better living. People come for work, not to cause pain … he was looking for his future," she said. 

Charles Herrmann, a lawyer who represents Zambrano-Montes' wife and daughters, said a second autopsy, requested by the family, showed he was shot as many seven times, with bullets hitting him in the chest and face.

Hermann added it also showed at least two bullets struck Zambrano-Montes from behind, in the buttock and the back of his arm, in conflict with police statements he was not shot on the back of his body.

"Our report differs sharply with statements made by local law enforcement authorities as to how many times Antonio Zambrano-Montes was struck by bullets and whether any were on his backside," Herrmann said.

Police investigating the incident said on Wednesday that three officers fired 17 shots at the man, striking him five or six times, after he ignored commands to surrender, and a stun gun failed to subdue him. Because full autopsy results are pending, Kennewick police Sgt. Ken Lattin said at a news conference he couldn't be more specific about where on Zambrano-Montes' body the shots struck.

Montes-Rivera said she wants to see the police officers involved in her son’s death punished.

"They need to pay with jail time," she said. "I don’t want … bad stuff happening to them because they have mothers and I don't want that their mothers suffer what I am suffering right now … but they have to pay with jail." 

Rights groups have urged the U.S. Justice Department to launch an investigation into the incident, which the Mexican government has condemned as a disproportionate use of lethal force.

The FBI and a U.S. attorney in Washington state are monitoring the local investigation, both offices said. The spokesman for the local investigative unit did not respond to requests for comment, nor did the Franklin County prosecutor.

Al Jazeera and wire services. Jose Cedeno contributed to this report.

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