But For Video: He Didn’t Comply Edition

According to reports, Antonio Zambrano-Montes threw a “large” rock at a car. Why is unknown, but throwing a rock at a car is a very bad and dangerous thing to do.  This was before the police arrived.  What happened after was captured on video.

To the extent it’s unclear what’s happening, let’s take the worst-case interpretation of the video from PoliceOne.  It starts with a remarkable statement:

It’s unclear in the video if he was armed and police say they are unsure if a weapon was found at the scene.

After all, sowing the seeds of uncertainty is critical in analyzing the scene.  Then again, police are usually pretty sure when a weapon is found at the scene. It’s one of the things they’re really good at.

The man was carrying a rock and may have tried to throw it at police, witnesses said. One grainy video shows him coming at officers on 10th Avenue, then turning and running as police fired several shots. He crossed the intersection onto Lewis Street while three officers chased him.

The man ran about a half block down Lewis Street before officers fired several more shots. The exact moment when he is shot is blocked by a vehicle in the video, so it’s unclear if he turned around to face officers. They appeared to handcuff him as he lay on the pavement after he was shot.

That’s pretty much the worst that can be said, though the video above doesn’t have a car blocking the image at the moment Zambrano-Montes was shot, so it’s clear that he stopped and turned around, his hands extended in front of him.

And then they shot him.

ECLS offers his take of the video:

The man can be seen throwing a rock at officers at approximately 0:05 of the video, and then turning to run.  At least one officer shoots at him at that time, and the first gunshots appear to be justified.  A thrown rock can be deadly force,* and the brain can transmitted the order to shoot before it realizes that the threat is turning and fleeing.  The man runs across the street with his hands up, turns down a sidewalk, and then turns as if to surrender with his hands still up, in front of him, empty, and in plain view.

And then they shot him.  That explanatory line, “and the brain can transmit the order to shoot before it realizes that the threat is turning and fleeing,” will strike some as disturbing, not because it isn’t true, but because it’s what no cop ever says when, say, a homeowner shoots a SWAT team member who broke into the wrong house in the middle of the night.

Naturally, a police spokesman, Captain Ken Roske, was called upon to explain this killing, “the fourth fatal shooting by [Pasco] police in the last six months.”

Police spokesman Capt. Ken Roske released few details after the shooting. He confirmed three officers were involved, though he declined to release their names or talk about who fired.

There was a confrontation in the intersection and the officers fired after the man refused to listen to their commands, Roske said.

“He (didn’t) comply with their commands as far as we know right now,” he said.

Other witnesses at the scene heard officers give the man orders to stop and drop the rock. They said the man refused to listen.

And then they shot him.

The officers involved were Ryan Flanagan, Adam Wright, and Adrian Alaniz, and, assuming Zambrano-Montes indeed had a rock in his hand, despite their appearing empty on the video, there was a minute chance they could have been the victim of a vicious rock throwing, assuming there was a rock in Zambrano-Montes’s hand, he could have cocked his arm and taken aim, all before the officers with guns drawn at point blank range could have fired.

But they didn’t have to wait for the muzzle flash cocked arm.  He didn’t comply with their commands, and that alone is reason enough to use deadly force to kill a guy who just wouldn’t do as he was told.

And so they shot him.

Is a rock, assuming there was a small one hiding in his hand, so small that it can’t be discerned on video, a threat so severe as to justify deadly force?  ECLS offers some historical perspective:

Ask Goliath or any of the multitude of people stoned to death in the modern day Middle East.

It’s unclear whether the Goliath story would pass muster under hearsay rules, and modern day stoning tends to require a lot more than one rock, but even if we assume that Zambrano-Montes has the arm and aim of David, sans the sling shot to hurl the rock at great velocity, it’s still a rock.  Yes, it could potentially cause a bruise, and maybe even take an eye out. But then, Zambrano-Montes wasn’t in the act of throwing it, and, frankly, wasn’t given much time to drop it either.

Perhaps his English wasn’t very good.  Perhaps his brain hadn’t transmitted the order to drop the rock by the time he realized three cops were about to kill him. That can happen, you know.

But none of this matters because, as Capt. Roske explained, he didn’t comply with the officers’ commands.

And then they shot him.

Notably, ECLS adds an update about Capt. Roske’s status with the Pasco police:

Capt. Roske, in addition to being the police manager over Public Information and Administration, is also the local FOP President and has been for over 10 years.  This is only relevant because, although it is not clear in this case, Police Administration is normally where the Internal Affairs function is located.  I would hope that it is not the case here, since having the police supervisor over IA also be the local union president would sure appear to be a conflict of interest.

And in a press conference, Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger explains that two of the officers were struck by rocks, though that doesn’t appear on video.  Thankfully, neither officer was killed.

And so they shot him.

17 thoughts on “But For Video: He Didn’t Comply Edition

  1. Turk

    I can’t see what inspired during the first round of shots near the cop car, but the 2nd round, 10 seconds later (and possibly already shot/injured?) with his hands in the air appears to be a flat out execution.

    1. SHG Post author

      Well, only if you’re one of those people who think a flat out execution means he doesn’t deserve to be killed because didn’t comply with commands.

  2. Jack

    You know, if ECLS is right and he did throw a rock at 0:05, there is a second rock assumption – they can’t just blindly ignore that a man with a rock may have another and they deserve to make it home for dinner. He was certainly within throwing range and he may have even had a sling, boleadoras, or surujin stuffed into his waistband.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        Decoy/distraction. The cops didn’t fall for it, and made it safely home to dinner — a bit late, due to the extra paperwork associated with meting out final justice, but that’s a small price to pay for the privilege of keeping the streets safe for the rest of us, while simultaneously reducing the burden on the overworked criminal justice system.

      2. Jack

        Ridiculous? If you want to take your chances against this man and his rock-based weaponry, go right ahead – I’ll send flowers to your funeral. I am more than comfortable with the inference that if a suspect has a rock, it is likely he also has string.

        I am pretty sure there are studies, but I could be wrong, that a rock can be deployed much faster than any other weapon. Something about 21 feet…

  3. Not Jim Ardis

    The repetition of “they shot him” turns a sad story into a deeply disturbing one.

    If this were to go to trial, a prosecutor who wanted to be sure of a conviction would mimic that style exactly.

      1. Not Jim Ardis

        Yes, but but the repetition just makes a horrible story sound so much worse.

        Yeah, the story is horrible, and disturbing, but “And so they shot him” over and over… Like nail on a chalk board, after the 3rd or 4th one I started to cringe noticeably.

  4. Rebecca

    I’m really rather surprised at the decision that multiple officers made to fire repeatedly in what looks to be a very well-populated area. I don’t think Zambrano-Montes’ crazy rock throwing posed a greater threat to the public than the police who were letting bullets fly.

      1. Curtis

        I must have a warped sense of humor.

        “The bullets were bullets of justice.”

        I laughed. The irony, I suppose.

        So let’s turn this around. Back in the mid 90’s, I went to investigate a racket going on in the carport after a large clunk on my wall. Turns out 2 drunk no habla’s were breaking car windows for the hell of it. I was armed. One of the fellas raise a grapefruit sized rock at me and squared off as if he was getting ready to throw it, I sidestepped as I pulled my handgun and leveled it at the no habla and told him to drop the rock. After a few seconds, he dropped it and both took off running. My wife calls the police. Before the police show up, 30-40 minutes later, they return, and we repeated this whole thing again.

        They leave again. The training Sgt. shows up with his trainee.

        I explained to him what transpired.

        Him: So. You were going to shoot some poor Mexican because he had a rock in his hand.

        Me: No. I was going to shoot him if he had so much a twitched that rock at me as he had the grapefruit sized rock in his hand in the ready to throw position and squared off with me… twice.

        Him: And I would have arrested you for murder if you had done so.

        Me. So, I have no right to protect property and no right to protect myself from great bodily injury or death while protecting property?

        Him: You should have stayed in the apartment.

        Me: Unless you are going to arrest me, I have nothing further to say to you. And I walk away.

        And they left. No report. No nothing until a few hours later when neighbors found their car windows smashed and called the cops.

        My car was next in line.

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