Widow of Rock-Throwing Man Killed by Police Is Suing

A jail booking photo shows Antonio Zambrano-Montes in February, days before police shot and killed him. Franklin County

The widow and children of Antonio Zambrano-Montes, a Mexican immigrant who in February was shot and killed by police officers in Pasco, Washington, while he was throwing rocks at them, have filed a civil lawsuit against the city, the police department and the officers. They are seeking at least $25 million in damages and attorney fees.

"We dispute that the killing was justified. A criminal jury from the community should be empaneled to determine if the killing was justified," George Trejo Jr., the lawyer who filed on behalf of the widow, Teresa de Jesus Meraz, said Thursday in a statement.

In addition to the city and its police department, the lawsuit filed in federal court names the police chief, Robert Metzger, and his wife, and officers Ryan Flanagan, Adam Wright and Adrian Alaniz, who were involved in the shooting, and their wives. The suit claims damages on the grounds that the officers used unlawful and unreasonable deadly force and deprived life without due process, among other complaints. It also claims the police department failed to adequately train, screen and hire the officers.

On February 10, police responded to reports that a man was throwing rocks at cars. When they confronted the man, he threw rocks at them. When using a Taser on him proved unsuccessful, police fired 17 shots at him. Bystanders captured the confrontation on video.

The prosecuting attorney for the county began releasing files from the official investigation in July. Those initial documents, videos and audio recordings suggested that Zambrano-Montes was likely holding a rock at the time the officers fatally shot him. He tested positive for methamphetamine.

In the documents, the police officers described the rocks as "baseball, softball and bigger than cantaloupe-size" and that getting hit with one "could possibly kill me" or "crack my skull."

The county released the final materials Wednesday.

Prosecuting Attorney Shawn Sant has not filed charges against the officers. He did not immediately respond to a requests for comment about the civil suit. Metzger also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A city spokesman said he would not comment on pending litigation.

The widow previously filed a $25 million complaint with the city clerk.

Zambrano-Montes's parents have also retained a lawyer.