A small Washington state police department at the center of a fatal officer-involved shooting last year needs more training and more Spanish-speaking officers, says a U.S. Justice Department review reported by the Wall Street Journal. The shooting of Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, was recorded on a cellphone video and spurred protests in Pasco, Wa., a city of 68,000. Officers approached Zambrano-Montes after he allegedly threw rocks at passing cars. He wouldn’t put down the rocks and continued his “threatening behavior,” leading the officers to shoot. Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against the three officers involved in the shooting. One of the officers resigned.
The review was done by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and doesn’t have the full force of a Justice Department civil-rights probe. Similar assessments have taken place in Philadelphia and San Diego in recent years. “There needed to be healing; we can’t deny that,” Pasco Police Chief Robert Metzger said yesterday. “If police departments don’t evolve, police departments get in trouble.” About 55 percent of Pasco’s population is Hispanic or Latino, while 14 of the city’s 76 officers are Hispanic. Meanwhile, 18 officers speak Spanish. Those numbers need to be increased, the report said.