Crime

5 Washington officers involved in call that ended in Fort Worth man’s death are named

The names of five Washington police officers involved in a case that led to the death of a man from Fort Worth have been released.

Jose Mercado, 48, was pronounced dead early Monday at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, which is about 145 miles southwest of Spokane.

The officers involved had been dispatched to an address in the 1300 block of Wilson Street on Sunday on a domestic disturbance report.

The officers, who are on paid administrative leave per department policy, are:

Sergeant Allen Jenkins, 20 years with the Richland Police Department, 22 years in law enforcement.

Officer Todd Gilbert, 2 years with the Richland Police Department, 7 years in law enforcement.

Officer Brandon Koe, 4 years with the Richland Police Department, 10 years in law enforcement.

Officer Ron Schneider, 11 years with the Richland Police Department, 18 years in law enforcement.

Officer Jason Lawrence, 12 years with the Richland Police Department, 20 years in law enforcement.

Interim Richland Police Chief Jeff Taylor has asked the Regional Investigations Unit to investigate.

The incident began unfolding late Sunday. At 11:52 p.m., Richland police got a domestic violence call on Wilson Street. Mercado had apparently been in Richland to surprise some relatives who are living there, according to the McClatchy-owned Tri-City Herald.

The caller reported Mercado had assaulted a family member and was outside throwing beer bottles at the house. Mercado also had a knife and might be under the influence, the reporting family member told a dispatcher.

According to Candy Eatmon, who lives on Wilson Street and witnessed the incident, Mercado was drunk, angry and yelling. She told the Tri-City Herald that he appeared to be looking for a fight.

When the first officer arrived, he confronted Mercado in the middle of the street.

A witness told police that Mercado moved toward the officer with closed fists. Police said the officer deployed a Taser on Mercado, but Mercado was able to remove the probes, rendering it ineffective.

Eatmon said Mercado was laughing throughout the interaction.

“I’m impressed the cop didn’t shoot him,” Eatmon told the Herald.

Police haven’t said which officer stunned Mercado.

Four more officers arrived and a fight ensued between Mercado and police, police said.

No firearms were discharged, authorities said.

Officers managed to subdue Mercado and place him under arrest.

Eatmon said she didn’t see the fight, but said she saw an officer fire another Taser at Mercado, who then dropped to the ground, the Herald reported.

Richland officials have not confirmed a second Taser was used, but at some point, Mercado became unresponsive. Medics arrived from the Richland Fire Department, administered first aid and took Mercado to the hospital where he died, police said.

Two officers were injured in the fight and taken to a local hospital where they received treatment.

An autopsy on Tuesday was inconclusive about the reason for Mercado’s death, the Benton County Coroner’s Office said. Blood samples have been sent to a private lab for testing.

In a phone interview with the Star-Telegram on Wednesday, Mercado’s wife, Sandra Zamora, said her husband didn’t have a heart problem.

“The police did this to him,” she said.

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