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Response to U.S. Attorney Office of Eastern WA to not charge police officers in the death of Mr. Zambrano-Montes

Pasco WA. 6.21.2016 -  The Latino Civic Alliance (LCA) firmly disagrees with the U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby in the Eastern District of Washington decision to not file charges against former police officer Ryan Flanagan, police officers Adam Wright and Adrian Alaniz.  The evidence from the videos and witnesses is clear that the officers chose to kill Mr. Antonio Zambrano-Montes on February 10, 2015.   

We believe that criminal and civil rights laws were violated and police misconduct occurred when Mr. Zambrano-Montes was shot 17 times and killed by officers after appearing to be surrendering. Furthermore, we believe innocent bystanders were unnecessarily put at risk of injury, violating their civil rights.   A primary purpose of the nation's civil rights laws is to protect citizens from abuses by government, including police misconduct. A statute known as Section 1983 is the primary civil rights law victims of police misconduct rely upon. This law was originally passed as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, which was intended to curb oppressive conduct by government and private individuals participating in vigilante groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan. It is now called Section 1983 because that is where the law has been published, within Title 42, of the United States Code. Section 1983 makes it unlawful for anyone acting under the authority of state law to deprive another person of his or her rights under the Constitution or federal law. The most common claims brought against police officers are false arrest (or false imprisonment), malicious prosecution, and use of excessive or unreasonable force.   

The decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to not charge the officers for the execution of Zambrano-Montes is indicative of the lack of trust they have created nationwide. The U.S. Justice Department nationally has demonstrated the complexity to report civil or criminal violations.  They do not have a clear guideline in place to properly inform the public when police officers are being investigated or hold police officers accountable or indict police officers for misconduct, excessive use of force or deadly force and this has damaged the reputation of the United States Justice Department. According to the U.S.  Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that the conviction rate for members of the general public who were tried on criminal charges ranged around 68% from 2002 through 2006; while data collected from the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, shows that during the period of April 2009 to December 2010 the conviction rate for law enforcement officers was closer to 39%.

Furthermore, data from the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project shows that “for the 426 law enforcement officers who were accused of using excessive force in incidents where a fatality occurred, only 28 faced charges and half of those who were prosecuted ended up being convicted. This would appear to indicate that there are disparities on a national scale between how law enforcement officers are treated in the criminal justice system compared to the general public.   According to the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, Washington State ranks number two in the five states with the lowest prosecution rates for law enforcement officers in the United States. Washington State also ranks number two among the five states with the worst law enforcement conviction rates for law enforcement.   

Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby met with LCA, one of the largest state advocacy groups in WA and was asked specifically to deliver the statute that the civil rights case would be determined in the Zambrano Montes case. Although he promised to provide this information, he never delivered.   The decision to not file charges was made by the U.S. Attorney's office behind closed doors and poor choice to base their decision on the Tri-Cities/Washington State Patrol Special Investigation Unit findings instead of using independent resources outside of the area. Public officials representing the police department in the surrounding areas have been openly opposed to an inquisition and have stated their bias towards the culpability of their police officers. The lack of use of impartial resources and biased personnel ultimately led to the decision announced today.  

Finally, LCA questions U.S. Attorney Ormsby lack of understanding to the series of nationwide events calling for new measures to hold police officers accountable. We also question the leadership that provided oversight to U.S. Attorney Ormsby investigating the Zambrano-Montes case. We need our U.S. Justice Department to be transparent, protect us all and ensure that anyone that violates our constitutional rights is held accountable. In the case of Mr. Zambrano Montes, it appears they applied their exhaustive efforts to protect the criminal behavior of the police officers involved.  LCA believes reform is direly needed and will not look away when injustice occurs. We will continue to advocate on a local, state and national level that when police officers exercise excessive use of deadly force that they will be held accountable and removed from serving the public.  This also applies to the investigative authorities including the U.S. Justice Department that investigates police officers when misconduct is demonstrated.  To all the law enforcement officers that put their lives at risk, respect the community that they serve to protect, we thank you. To those that violate their position and abuse this privilege, we ask that you keep in mind that human dignity is afforded to all and justice will prevail.   

LCA Board of Directors
Nina Martínez- Chair, Claudia D’Allegri- Vice Chair, Sandra Rodarte - Secretary, Mateo Arteaga-Treasurer, Gabriel Portugal, Chris Paredes, Gustavo Ramos, Nick Marquez, Sergio Castaneda, Jimmy Matta, Ruvine Jimenez, Larry Sanchez, Enrique López   

References: National Police Misconduct Reporting Project. Accessed 6/21/2016. Site:

Written by Latino Civic Alliance   

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