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Autopsies differ on police shooting

Agapita Montes-Rivera (center), mother of the man killed by police, was comforted Wednesday after his funeral Mass.Andrew Jansen/Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. — An independent autopsy of an unarmed Mexican man killed by police in Washington state showed he was shot up to seven times — including twice from behind — contradicting earlier statements from authorities, an attorney for the man’s family said Thursday.

The independent autopsy found that Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, had at least two entrance wounds on the back of his body, said lawyer Charles Herrmann, who is representing Zambrano-Montes’s estranged wife and two daughters.

His comments came a day after a spokesman for the special unit investigating the Feb. 10 shooting in Pasco said five or six bullets struck Zambrano-Montes but none from behind.


The immigrant’s death has prompted calls for a federal investigation, along with a series of demonstrations in Pasco, an agricultural center of 68,000 about 130 miles southwest of Spokane.

Herrmann commissioned the second autopsy by a Seattle pathologist, Dr. Carl Wigren, who performed it Feb. 20. Herrmann released a portion of the report Thursday.

‘‘The report reflects a total of as many as seven rounds striking Zambrano,’’ Herrmann said. It also found entry wounds on the back of the victim’s right arm and one buttock, he said.

The independent autopsy found the Pasco orchard worker also was shot in the face, stomach, chest, arm, and scrotum, according to a diagram provided by Herrmann.

At a news conference Wednesday, Kennewick Police Sergeant Ken Lattin was clear that the official autopsy showed Zambrano-Montes was not hit anywhere on the back of his body. That would indicate Zambrano-Montes was not shot while running from the officers.

Franklin County’s coroner, Dr. Sig Menchel, performed the official autopsy days after the shooting.

Lattin is a spokesman for the regional law enforcement task force examining the shooting. On Thursday, he referred questions to county prosecutor Shawn Sant in Pasco. Sant did not immediately return a telephone message.


The final medical examiner’s report is not finished, but it could be done within a month, Lattin said Wednesday.

He said preliminary results of the official autopsy showed three officers fired a total of 17 shots. Police have not said how many shots each officer fired or whether bullets from all three officers struck Zambrano-Montes.

On the afternoon of Feb. 10, Zambrano-Montes was throwing rocks at passing vehicles and later at responding officers, authorities say.

Video taken by a witness shows the man running from officers. As the officers draw closer, he stops and faces them. Multiple gunshots are heard, and he falls, twisting, to the ground as the shooting continues.

Lattin said officers fired stun guns at least twice but failed to stop Zambrano-Montes before using their lethal weapons. The officers felt threatened, police said.

Zambrano-Montes’s death at a busy intersection has sparked two weeks of protests in the city, where more than half the residents are Hispanic but few are members of the police force or the power structure.

Additional protests are planned for Saturday.