Pasco, Washington Ret. Colonel Felix Vargas of Latino Consejo in a letter written on March 3 asked the Honorable Prosecutor Shawn Sant of Franklin County to respectfully recuse himself from the case involving the shooting of Antonio Zambrano Montes.
Latino Consejo said Sant’s experiences as a police officer and a prosecutor would cause him to come to the aid and defense of the police; when the police officer’s actions came into question, Sant would be incapable of coming to an unbiased conclusion. Sant should recuse himself from the case.
Latino Consejo also complained that Shawn Sant’s direct involvement in the Special Investigation Unit conducted by the city of Kennewick from Benton county also did not allow for an independent investigation. He claimed Sant’s presence in the Pasco division police news conference concerning the Special Investigative Unit (SIU)–three times as the primary speaker–showed he had an ongoing relationship that was biased at the very least in favor of the police department. This is a police department with which he has certain professional loyalties and friendships–with the officers involved in the shooting. He should have had a independent prosecutor appointed to the case by the Washington State Attorney General because he was incapable of being neutral.
Prosecutor Shawn Sant responded to Latino Consejo in a March 12 letter saying that as a elected official the community had placed their faith in him to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of prosecutor and that he would make decisions based upon the law that he experienced as a police officer and a prosecutor would be able to do his job. He stated that he was not going to quit when the decision or the job got tough.
Should Shawn Sant have recused himself from the case?
Shawn Sant has not divulged whether or not he was an actual member of The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge # 7 of Kennewick. Sant was a Prosser, Washington police officer–a police department with officers who hold allegiance to the FOP. He also served as a reserve police officer in Richland.
Pasco Division has officers with membership in lodge #7 FOP as do the county police of Benton and Franklin Counties. FOP leaked Sant’s findings to the media even before Sant’s press conference of Sant’s decision based on the justifiable homicide law. Have officers Alaniz, Flanagan or Wright had memberships in lodge # 7 of the Fraternal Order of Police and how many of the police that investigated the shooting are also members of the Fraternal Order of Police. The Fraternal Order of Police is not a government agency.
Though Sant may have followed the Washington state justifiable homicide guidelines, his job is to be impartial. His job is to bias a jury or judge to find people guilty or not guilty. The officer’s involved in the shooting have worked for Sant’s office before as Felony charges are not brought to trial by Pasco municipal and instead sent to the Franklin county prosecutors–Sant’s office–for prosecution.
Should the three officers be prosecuted by another office or the Department of Justice?
The laws upheld were written to defend the actions of the those who enforce the law against those that are victims of the law. It is clear that the police shot and killed Antonio, the police investigated Antonio’s homicide and a former police officer justified the shooting death of Antonio by the police.
Following the Fraternal Order of Police news Conference when Sant said no charges would be brought against the officers, the protesters said in Spanish that the whole situation was simply “not fair”. Justifying a homicide is getting away with murder.
Governor Inslee ordered the Washington State Attorney General to finally investigate Shawn Sant’s determination. Earlier in the year on March 28, Governor Inslee had said no to requests to have Shawn Sant replaced by a special prosecutor.
John Chacon served in the Army as a 3 time volunteer. Completing two tours of duty in Iraq. Earning the Army’s Combat Action Badge for taking fire while performing his duty. He did not run over children for protesting the American presence in their country even thought the rules of engagement said he could he chose instead to risk his life and spare theirs.