Latino Group Objects to Call to Remove Coroner from Zambrano Inquest
A group called Latino Civic Alliance has issued a statement in reference to a former Pasco police officer's attorney filing a motion that would request removing Coroner Dan Blasdell from the upcoming Zambrano shooting inquest.
Former officer Ryan Flanagan's attorney filed the motion, claiming Coroner Dan Blasdel has turned his proposed inquest into a 'circus' of which he is the ringmaster. Citing numerous media quotes, other statements, and actions from Blasdel, Flanagan's attorney believes the coroner will not act or rule in an unbiased way towards the case. Flanagan was one of three officers directly involved in the February 2015 shooting of Antonio Zambrano in Pasco. He resigned from the force last summer.
After nearly a year of pursuing an inquest, Blasdel will finally get his day, as May 23rd it will begin at CBC. The inquest is not a trial, but will examine the Zambrano case in the same manner. The jury will then decide if they think charges should be brought against anyone in the Zambrano shooting. It's up to county prosecutors to heed or disregard their advice. Prior to CBC offering free use of a building, the inquest was estimated to cost the county over $60,000. As is, it will still incur a significant cost, and many officials felt it was unnecessary after the Special Investigations Unit report.
The Latino Civic Alliance is a group based out of Washington state, with a 13 member board. Most of their activity is aimed at calling attention to legislative and other related issues that affect the Latino community, and it appears the bulk of their efforts are in that arena, as well as increasing civic and political awareness in the community. They also work to get more Latinos registered to vote, and involved in politics. Four of the board members are shown to be based out of Pasco.
However, in the statement they issued about the calling for Blasdel to be removed, they took a sharp stance, and even called into question former officer Flanagan's integrity. Part of their statement read as follows:
"We question Mr. Flanagan's ulterior motive for wanting to remove the Coroner from the inquest. Stakeholders should remember that the City of Pasco paid $100,000 settlement for Mr. Flanagan's actions of excessive use of force to a Hispanic woman and this history of his previous actions should reduce his moral fortitude to now make a claim that the coroner would be biased. The inquest will provide transparency to the community. The City of Pasco and Franklin County have the opportunity to rise above and ensure this tragic incident does not further divide our community." (Bold lettering added for emphasis).
Despite the SIU investigation, and Prosecutor Sean Sant declining to prosecute, this group claims the" overwhelming video coverage and public testimonies" are enough for the officers involved to be prosecuted.
In issuing this statement, the group undermines the SIU investigation, which was not conducted by the Pasco Police Department but led by the credible efforts that included Kennewick police and Sgt. Ken Lattin, as well as other law-enforcement agencies.
Blasdel said on the Newstalk 870 program Meet in The Middle last year, the inquest will serve as a reinforcement of the SIU investigation, and prove to all in the community that it was done correctly...a sort of "backup" if you will. Blasdel did not indicate on the Newstalk program that he thinks any different outcome will occur from the inquest, than what was found by the SIU investigation.
However, this Latino group seems to think despite the same evidence that will be used in the inquest, that a different outcome will occur, one they will apparently find more acceptable.
As for their statement about "further dividing the community," continuing to call into question the integrity of law enforcement, or anyone else who does not agree with them, is one of the fastest ways to foster resentment and stiffen people's resolve who don't see this issue the way they do.