(Reuters) - Police in Washington state shot a man to death who threw rocks at them, officials said on Wednesday, as a video published online appearing to show the incident drew criticism of the officers’ actions.
The police shooting in Pasco, Washington comes amid heightened tension across the country in the wake of high-profile police killings of unarmed minorities, particularly in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City.
Officers Ryan Flanagan, Adam Wright, and Adrian Alaniz arrived at the parking lot of a Fiesta Foods grocery store around 5 p.m. local time on Tuesday, where suspect Antonio Zambrano-Montes threw rocks at them, Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger said in a statement.
The officers attempted to use a stun gun to incapacitate Zambrano-Montes after he would not obey commands to surrender, before they opened fire and killed him, the statement said.
A video of the incident posted on YouTube and cited by local media showed the man running away from the three officers before he was killed.
In the 22-second video, the man moves across the street from the pursuing policemen. He turns to face them briefly, lifting his right arm as if to throw another object, when they open fire, according to the video.
Pasco Police Captain Ken Roske said when reached by Reuters on Wednesday night that the department had reviewed videos of the incident, but could not confirm their authenticity.
“They certainly look like the right intersections,” he said, adding that the Tri-City Special Investigation Unit would conduct a full probe into the shooting.
The Seattle Times, which linked to the video on its website, reported that a few dozen people gathered outside Pasco City Hall in protest of the shooting on Wednesday.
In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington called the incident “very disturbing,” the paper said.
“Fleeing from police and not following an officer’s command should not be sufficient for a person to get shot,” ACLU of Washington Director Kathleen Taylor said in a statement, according to the Seattle Times.
Two officers were hit by rocks in the incident, police said. They were treated at the scene, and the extent of their injuries was not provided.
The officers were placed on administrative leave, as per department policy, the statement said.
Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco