An immigrant farmworker, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, was gunned down by police officers in Washington State after he was found throwing large rocks onto a busy intersection. The incident was caught on video and sparked public outrage over the “excessive use of force” by the department. However, in a strange twist of events, it was discovered that Zambrano-Montes was dragged from his burning home just weeks prior by Officer Adam Wright, who is charged in the fatal shooting.
The Associated Press reports that Antonio Zambrano-Montes was found sitting next to his burning home in a meth-induced trance when Officer Wright pulled him from the fire. Just a couple weeks later, the man would be found throwing rocks into a busy intersection and fatally shot while fleeing police. The case caused outrage among the public as video of the incident seemed to show Montes fleeing the police before turning with outstretched arms. Police then fired at the man, killing him. The incident caused many to question whether deadly force was needed in this case, as the man was only armed with large rocks.
According to NewsDay, the very officer now charged with the murder of the farmworker is the same officer who just weeks before had saved the man from the fire. However, the fire incident wasn’t the first incident involving Montes and the police. In fact, it seems the immigrant farmworker had a somewhat erratic history of past transgressions with the police. From a previous incident where Zambrano-Montes asked police to kill him and gouging his forehead with a knife, the man was never referred for mental treatment.
George Trejo, a lawyer for the man’s family, who is seeking $25 million from the city of Pasco for the “execution-style killing” of their relative, says that the department should have referred Antonio to treatment after the rash of problems.
“They never referred him to any type of treatment whatsoever.”
Police say that they attempted to have charges brought against Antonio for assaulting an officer when he tried to make officers kill him during an attack. However, the prosecutor would not take the case because it was noted the man was “mental.” Police note that in the past the man had also served five months in county jail for grabbing an officer’s gun while taking meth.
Gordon Bopp, a mental health advocate, notes that police have their hands somewhat tied when it comes to those suffering from mental health issues. He says that first responders have little options when it comes to bringing these people in for treatment.
“We don’t have any place where first responders can bring these people.”
Considering the past conflicts between Zambrano-Montes and the police, was the fatal force justified when the man turned around abruptly while fleeing, or should the department have done more to get the man proper mental health treatment?