A day after investigators in Washington state said an autopsy showed a Mexican migrant killed by police wasn't shot from behind, a lawyer for the man's family said a second autopsy contradicts the police claims.
Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, was shot twice from the back during a Feb. 10 standoff with police in Pasco, Washington, according to a new autopsy described Thursday by attorney Charles Herrmann. The finding contradicts a claim made Wednesday by Sgt. Ken Lattin of the Tri-Cities Special Investigation Unit, a squad of officers from four police departments assigned to investigate the killing.
The second autopsy, performed by a pathologist hired by Zambrano-Montes' family, found that the orchard worker was shot seven times, Herrmann said. Lattin said police fired 17 shots, hitting Zambrano-Montes five or six times. “At this time we know Antonio Zambrano-Montes was not shot in the back,” the Tri-Cities Special Investigation Unit said in a statement Wednesday.
“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 in a statement Thursday.
One of those shots pierced Zambrano-Montes upper right arm and another hit his left buttock, Herrmann said. The report also indicated a graphic wound to Zambrano-Montes' genitals.
"Another bullet presumably pierced his scrotum, although the damage there was such that the doctor could not positively identify the wound as a point of entry," Herrmann said.
Police shot Zambrano-Montes to death following complaints that he was throwing rocks at traffic. When police confronted him in a supermarket parking lot, he allegedly hit two of the three officers with stones.
A bystander recorded Zambrano-Montes running from police across the street, in a widely circulated video. It shows Zambrano-Montes stopping and turning to face the pursuing cops. They unleash a flurry of bullets that drop Zambrano-Montes to the pavement.
Lattin declined to answer HuffPost's questions about the new autopsy.
The shooting, seen millions of time around the world, has led some to equate Pasco with Ferguson, Missouri, where a police officer was not indicted for the August fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown, who was unarmed.
Zambrano-Montes' family had sought an independent autopsy after the Franklin County coroner's office performed its examination.
After toxicology results in about six weeks, there will be a coroner's inquest to evaluate whether the killing was justified.
Coroner Dan Blasdel declined to address the discrepancies between the two autopsies. He did, however, suggest the pathologist who performed the family's autopsy may have been biased.
"The pathologist that did the second autopsy is basically a pathologist for hire. How much credibility he has is questionable," said Blasdel. "It's going to be very interesting to get him on the stand at the inquest."
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