- Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2015

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Gov. Jay Inslee has denied a second request to appoint a special prosecutor in the case of a Mexican man shot and killed by three Pasco police officers. This request came from the attorney for the victim’s estranged wife and daughters.

Nicholas Brown, an attorney for the governor, this week sent a letter to Yakima attorney George P. Trejo Jr. denying the request.

The letter said nothing had changed since the governor told the Hispanic advocacy group Consejo Latino last month that he wouldn’t appoint a prosecutor in the Feb. 10 shooting of Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35.

The shooting of the unarmed Mexican national sparked a series of protests in Pasco, an agricultural city of 68,000 that is majority Hispanic. More demonstrations are planned this weekend.

“We look forward to reviewing all the facts of the incident before any further decisions are made,” Brown wrote.

Trejo was highly critical of the decision, which he contrasted to Saturday’s shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina, where the officer accused of killing Scott was immediately fired and charged with murder.

“It is even more disgusting when one compares the cold blooding killing of Mr. Zambrano with that of the defenseless man in South Carolina,” Trejo wrote in an email. “There, prosecutors did not hesitate to charge the officer. Here in the State of Washington everyone wants to look the other way.”

Trejo said the Hispanic community was disappointed in Inslee.

“It is unfortunate our Governor lacks the intestinal fortitude to take the necessary action to place a special prosecutor in this investigation,” Trejo wrote.

Earlier, Trejo had demanded that a planned coroner’s inquest into the shooting be cancelled and the three officers charged immediately with murder.

The Feb. 10 shooting in Pasco, about 130 miles southwest of Spokane, was captured on video and widely viewed on social media.

Zambrano-Montes was fired upon 17 times by Pasco police officers Ryan Flanagan, Adam Wright and Adrian Alaniz after he reportedly threw at least one rock at them. The orchard worker was not carrying a gun or knife. A rock was found near his body, which was struck by at least five bullets.

Trejo was recently hired by Teresa De Jesus Meraz Ruiz, the widow of Zambrano-Montes.

The inquest will allow a jury of six civilians to determine the cause and manner of death in the shooting. The jury also will decide if the shooting was justifiable.

Though the jury will reach a verdict, Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant ultimately will decide whether criminal charges should be filed.

Consejo Latino last month sent a letter to Inslee requesting a special prosecutor to replace Sant. The group wrote that Sant was too close to the investigation and that his time spent as a police officer in Prosser and reserve officer in Richland created a conflict of interest.

Inslee replied to that request that county prosecutors have a legal duty and moral obligation to investigate and prosecute crimes that occur in their regions, and they should not be removed from their positions “absent very specific, tangible and compelling reasons.”

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