In a letter today to Governor Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that his office is closing without criminal charges its investigation into the February 10, 2015, death of Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Pasco, Washington. During an encounter on a city street, three officers of the Pasco Police Department shot and killed Mr. Zambrano-Montes.
This is the third and final review of this shooting by a prosecuting attorney’s office. On September 9, 2015, the Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office announced that it would not bring criminal charges against the officers. Following this decision, Governor Inslee asked the Attorney General’s Office to conduct a separate, independent review. Meanwhile, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington conducted its own federal criminal review. On June 21, 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that it would close its review of the case without federal criminal charges against the officers.
The Attorney General’s Office is committed to conducting thorough and fair investigations. The office will proceed with criminal prosecutions if and when they are supported by the evidence and the legal standard for prosecution.
In this case, a team of experienced prosecutors reviewed a substantial body of evidence, including: the investigative record generated by the Tri-Cities Special Investigation Unit; multiple videos of the shooting and the preceding events, from both law enforcement cameras and civilian witnesses; numerous eyewitness statements; forensic evidence, including scene diagrams, physical evidence analysis, a toxicology report, and multiple autopsy reports; statements by the officers involved, both contemporaneous and after the fact; and other related statements and materials. The Attorney General’s Office carefully reviewed the applicable law. Finally, the Attorney General’s Office also considered comments and analysis by advocacy groups and non-governmental organizations, government officials, attorneys, and members of the public regarding the shooting, the previous charging decisions, and the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
Following this review, Attorney General Ferguson has determined that the Pasco officers’ actions on February 10, 2015, did not exceed the legal standards for the justifiable use of deadly force set forth in RCW 9A.16.040.
Finally, the Attorney General’s Office has reviewed the U.S. Department of Justice’s recent analysis of policing practices in Pasco, as set forth in the August 2016 report “Recommendations on Advancing Community Policing in the Pasco Police Department.” The Attorney General’s Office endorses the conclusions of the Department of Justice report.