The Seattle Times takes a look at the town of Pasco, Wa., where last year, three police officers shot and killed 35-year-old Mexican farmworker Antonio Zambrano-Montes, who reportedly was throwing rocks at passing motorists and later at the officers. For weeks, protesters decried the use of deadly force against Zambrano-Montes and expressed concerns about aggressive police tactics against local Latinos, who make up 60 percent of the population. Journalists as far away as Great Britain wondered whether Pasco, located among sun-parched buttes at the confluence of the Columbia and Snake rivers, would become the desert version of Ferguson, Mo. “Black Lives Matter. Hispanic Lives Matter,” the Pasco protesters chanted, giving a Latin spin to the now-famous rallying cry.
In what has become a recurring feature of police-involved shootings of black and brown people, grainy phone videos recorded by bystanders circulated online, showing the officers firing 17 times at an erratically behaving Zambrano-Montes. Multiple investigations have found that the officers were justified, although a wrongful-death lawsuit by Zambrano-Montes’ parents, arguing that he was actually trying to flee and then surrender, continues to move forward. Police chief Bob Metzger and city manager Dave Zabell, who are white, point to a longtime emphasis on community policing in Pasco and cite reforms made since the shooting, including the hiring of more Spanish-speaking police officers, the creation of a city Facebook page in Spanish and changes to city hiring that should make it easier to recruit bilingual employees.