The old quip in self-defense circles is that it is imprudent to bring a knife to a gunfight. This caution must apply only more certainly to the bringing of a rock to a gunfight, a lesson learned the hard way by one Antonio Zambrano-Montes after he was shot and killed this past Tuesday by the Pasco, WA police department, as reported by CNN and other news sources.

Police were called after reports that Zambrano-Montes was at an urban intersection hurling rocks at vehicles. When officers responded, they too began to be pelted with stones as large as softballs, with officers being struck multiple times.

Police say that they attempted to use various degrees of non-deadly force, including voice commands and a taser, but that these efforts were unsuccessful. Events were escalated to imminent deadly force against the officers by Zambrano-Montes.

Video below shows shooting death of Zambrano-Montes.

The video above, apparently captured on a cell phone by a driver in a nearby car, shows Zambrano-Montes with his arm raised ready to throw a stone at an officer only a few feet away. Zambrano-Montes winds up for the throw, and the officer begins to scurry away, crouched over to protect his head from fatal injury. The stone is thrown, and a moment later (at the 4s mark in the video above) several police fire an apparent total of 6 or so rounds. The rapidity with which the shots were fired indicates the officers already had their guns unholstered and ready to engage.

These shots either missed or were poorly placed, as Zambrano-Montes begins to run (rather slowly) across the street and down an adjacent sidewalk, with several officers in pursuit.

As the officers close in on Zambrano-Montes to within 10 feet or so, he suddenly turns and moves his hands from his waist and towards the police officers, in a motion identical to what would be expected if he had retrieved a pistol from his waistband and was pointing it at the officers (at the 19s of the video).

At this point the officers officer fire again, in greater volume and with apparently improved shot placement, putting Zambrana-Montes down on the sidewalk. He never appears to move again.

Protestors gathered to march the following day. Among their claims for outrage are that Zambrano-Montes did not speak English and therefore would not have understood the officers’ commands–as if one needed to speak English to understand it is unwise to throw stones at officers pointing guns at you–and that “it was only a rock”–as if a softball-sized stone thrown at one’s head from a few feet away does not represent a imminent deadly force.

As must be expected, the left-wing media has already begun to weave the event into the greater narrative fabric of past shootings. The Guardian, for example, writes that “Seconds before the shooting, it appears that Zambrano-Montes momentarily raises his hands in the air.

They seek to suggest a motion clearly indicating surrender, a characterization clearly belied by the actual video. Indeed, Zambrana-Montes was “merely surrendering” when thrusting his hands out at the officers in much the same way Marissa Alexander was “merely firing a warning shot” when she sent a bullet inches past her husband’s head.

The Pasco police department has brought in outside law enforcement agencies to investigate the shooting, as has become the standard practice for such events, with the results to be reported back to the Franklin County Prosecutors Office to determine if charges should be brought against the three officers who fired.

In addition, Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel has indicated that his office will exercise the option of conducting a separate inquest involving six community members, following the completion of the criminal investigation.  This inquest is not required, but Blasdel says he intends to conduct it because it “takes the burden off the law enforcement and puts it in the hands of the citizens, and puts the facts in public.”

Keep your eyes here at Legal Insurrection for more coverage as additional facts and events occur.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


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Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle). He also holds Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and provides free online self-defense law video lectures at the Law of Self Defense Institute and podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.