A special investigative unit gave prosecutors its final report Thursday on the February killing of an unarmed Hispanic man who was shot by police in Pasco, Washington. The contents were not released.
Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant said his office will interview more than 80 witnesses identified in the report and decide whether criminal charges are warranted against any police officers.
The investigative unit, made up of members of area police agencies, was asked to look into the death of Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, who was shot at a busy intersection on Feb. 10 after he threw rocks at cars and police.
The shooting of the orchard worker sparked weeks of protests with some critics saying police were quick to shoot because Zambrano-Montes was Hispanic.
"I've made a commitment to the public that we will be as transparent as possible," Sant said Thursday at a news conference. "Going forward, I have to figure out if we have enough information to proceed to a trial."
Sant wouldn't commit to a timetable for making that decision.
"We need to get this right," he said. "I'm not going to sacrifice quality for speed."
Among other things, prosecutors will consider whether the shooting was reasonable, within the law and justified.
Zambrano-Montes was fired at 17 times by Pasco police officers Ryan Flanagan, Adam Wright and Adrian Alaniz after he threw at least one rock at them at a busy intersection.
He was not carrying a gun or knife. A rock was found near his body, which was struck by at least five bullets. At the time, the victim’s family said he was shot from behind.
The shooting, captured on video, led to weeks of protests in Pasco and drew the attention of the government of Mexico. The officers have been placed on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
Officials have said the next step could be a coroner's inquest that would allow a jury of six civilians to determine the cause and manner of death. The jury also would decide if the shooting was justifiable.
However, the inquest, if it occurs, would not happen before August, officials said.
Sant also said his office is arranging a meeting with the victim's parents, who live in Mexico, to discuss the case. Zambrano-Montes moved to Pasco a decade ago.
Pasco is an agricultural city of 68,000 people. Located 130 miles southwest of Spokane, it is mostly Hispanic.
The Associated Press