Coroner requests inquest into Pasco orchard worker's shooting; witnesses say he was telling cops 'to stop'

PASCO, Wash. (AP) — A coroner whose office is conducting an autopsy on an orchard worker shot by Pasco, Washington, police after he was accused of throwing rocks at officers is considering convening an inquest jury to look into the death.

The Seattle Times reports that Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel said controversy over Tuesday's shooting of 35-year-old Antonio Zambrano-Montes would justify a coroner's inquest, in which a jury is presented with evidence and decides whether the officers' actions were justified.

The police shooting has sparked anger at what some say is another example of police brutality and excessive force.

In Blasdel's words, "We don't want another Ferguson here in Pasco." He referred to the riots that followed the Aug. 9 shooting death of an unarmed black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and a grand jury's decision not to indict.

Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger has appealed for patience during an investigation by the Tri-City Special Investigation Unit and an internal review. Blasdel says he won't decide about an inquest until the investigation is complete.

Multiple videos of the shooting have popped up online. Q13 FOX News has not embedded the video because it is extremely graphic.

About 100 protesters marched outside Pasco City Hall Wednesday, with some chanting “It was only a rock,” CNN affiliate KEPR reported. Later in the evening, more protesters took to the intersection where the shooting occurred.

A rally is to be held at noon Saturday at Volunteer Park, which is across from City Hall. From the park, the protesters plan to walk to 10th and Lewis for a vigil, police said.

Zambrano’s family and protesters are pushing for answers. His cousins were in the crowd outside City Hall Wednesday. They told reporters Zambrano wouldn’t have been able to understand the commands.

“He didn’t understand English and they were talking to him in English,” one cousin said. “Why not get a Hispanic officer?”

A witness, Juan Rodriguez, told KEPR that Zambrano was “telling them to stop… but then the cops, they didn’t listen and they just shot him. All three cops started shooting him.”

Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel said Zambrano’s shooting death was the fourth fatal officer-involved shooting in the area in the past six months. According to the Tri-City Herald, officers were cleared in the other three shootings.