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US urged to probe police killing of Mexican immigrant

18 February 2015 15:24

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The leader of a Hispanic rights group in the US state of Washington has asked the Justice Department to conduct its own investigation into the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Mexican immigrant, who ran from officers after throwing rocks at them.

Felix Vargas, chairman of Consejo Latino, complained on Tuesday that having local authorities investigate last week’s slaying of Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Pasco will have “no credibility whatsoever.”

“It appears inescapable that the lethal force applied by these police officers was excessive in the extreme and, as such, it constituted a violation of Mr. Zambrano’s constitutional rights,” Vargas wrote in a letter to the Justice Department.

Vargas pointed out that police officers have not been indicted in three shootings over the past six months in Washington state.

On Friday, the Mexican government condemned the killing as a disproportionate use of lethal force.

Zambrano-Montes, a 35-year-old orchard laborer, was shot dead Tuesday in the small city of Pasco, in an agricultural hub with a large Hispanic community and a largely white power structure.

In a video filmed by a driver and posted online, Zambrano-Montes is seen throwing rocks at police and then running from officers before they fire multiple shots.

Several hundred people took to the streets on Saturday to protest his death. Demonstrators chanted “We want justice!” and held signs aloft bearing slogans like “Shoot me on the leg but don’t kill me!”

Police brutality and the unnecessary use of heavy-handed tactics, as well as the racial profiling of some minorities, have become a major concern across the US in recent years.

The death of several unarmed black men by the hands of white police officers last summer triggered months of protests and clashes between police and demonstrators across the US.

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