PASCO (AP) — One of three Pasco police officers who fired at a Mexican farmworker when he wouldn’t stop throwing large rocks said he was not shooting to kill the man.
“The purpose was to stop the imminent threat,” Ryan Flanagan said at a coroner’s inquest on Tuesday.
In a videotaped deposition, Flanagan said he was concerned for his own safety and that of his fellow officers, along with bystanders on that early evening in February 2015.
Flanagan, who has since left the police force, was not subpoenaed to testify in the coroner’s inquest into the death of Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, called by Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel. The inquest is underway at Columbia Basin College in Pasco.
The inquest is a fact-finding hearing in which jurors ultimately will be asked to determine what caused Zambrano-Montes’ death and whether the officers used deadly force.
Excerpts of a deposition Flanagan gave almost eight weeks ago in a civil case were played for jurors on Tuesday.
Zambrano-Montes was high on methamphetamine and throwing rocks at passing motorists before he was shot.
The shooting was captured on video and sparked weeks of peaceful protests in Pasco.
Local, state and federal prosecutors have declined to bring charges against the three officers.
The jury verdict will have no effect on whether criminal charges are filed.
Officers Adam Wright and Adrian Alaniz, who remain on the force, were sent subpoenas and were expected to testify.
Their attorneys, Gregory Scott of Yakima and John Jensen of Kennewick, told Blasdel the officers will invoke their Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves before the jury.
Flanagan, in his deposition, said he recalled Alaniz being hit by a rock three times.
Flanagan fired three of the first five shots at Zambrano-Montes. Wright shot twice.
Flanagan denied that Zambrano-Montes was running away from them at the time of the first volley, saying he could see the man’s chest when he took aim.
“There was no other alternative,” Flanagan said.
The officers then gave Zambrano-Montes the chance to disengage so the encounter could end peacefully, but Flanagan said the suspect chose to keep throwing rocks or chunks of concrete.
When he shot six more times at Zambrano-Montes in the second volley, Flanagan said he felt it was necessary because he was in immediate fear for his own life or the life and safety of the other two officers.
The officers fired a total of 17 times at Zambrano-Montes, striking him five or six times, according to an autopsy.