Protest over shooting death of Mexican farmworker in Washington state hits Seattle

Still frame taken from a cell phone video provided by Dario Infante and taken on Feb. 10, 2015.

Still frame taken from a cell phone video provided by Dario Infante and taken on Feb. 10, 2015.

More than a week after the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Hispanic man in Washington state, dozens of demonstrators hit the streets of Seattle Wednesday night in protest of policing tactics.

Antonio Zambrano-Montes was killed on Feb. 10th when police officers gunned him down — and it was all caught on video. The 35-year-old was killed in Pasco, a largely Hispanic community, about 200 miles away from Seattle. In Pasco, rallies have drawn hundreds of people in the past days.

“The murder of Antonio is completely outrageous,” said Emma Kaplan, 29, a Seattle resident who helped organize the protest, to Bloomberg Business. “It’s unjust. And it’s a pattern that’s going on in this country.”

People held signs reading "We Can't Breathe," a reference to the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York, and chanted "No Racist Police."

Meantime, in an interview with KIRO radio, Eduardo Baca, the Mexican consul in Seattle, said he saw the video showing Zambrano-Montes' death.

"I don't want to prejudge anything," Baca said. "But, just by the video, it would seem the response was disproportionate to whatever threat could have been perceived by the police."

Police shooting video

The leader of a Hispanic group in an agricultural city in Washington is asking the U.S. Justice Department to order an independent investigation.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Felix Vargas, the chairman of Consejo Latino, argues that any probe should be carried out by the Justice Department because an investigation by a regional special investigations unit will have "no credibility whatsoever," the Tri-City Herald reported. 

The evening of the shooting  Zambrano-Montes reportedly was throwing rocks at cars and police at a busy intersection in Pasco.

Police said the rocks hit two officers and that Zambrano-Montes refused to put down other stones. They also said a stun gun failed to subdue him.

In cellphone video from a witness, several "pops" are audible just before Zambrano-Montes is seen running across a street, pursued by three officers. As he stops and turns around, gunshots ring out, and he falls dead.

"In all, about 15 rounds were fired in a very congested area during rush hour," Vargas wrote. "Having mortally wounded him, the police proceeded to handcuff this dying man without rendering aid or even checking his pulse."

Police have said the officers felt threatened by Zambrano-Montes' behavior.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Spokane said Tuesday he could not comment, but noted that the FBI has said it will monitor the investigation.

Kennewick Police Sgt. Ken Lattin, a spokesman for the special unit investigating the shooting, said federal or state officials would be welcome to review the findings afterward, but that the homicide investigation itself should be left to police.

"There's nobody else who investigates homicides, we are the best at that," he said. "There's nothing wrong with having oversight, but the investigation part is done by us."

The officers are required to conduct the investigation fairly, Lattin said.

"We're not going to put our careers on the line for anybody," he said. "If it's determined somebody made a mistake, they will be held accountable."

Contains reporting by the Associated Press.

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