Franklin Co. Commissioners support funding coroner's inquest int - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Franklin Co. Commissioners support funding coroner's inquest into Pasco Police shooting

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PASCO, WA. -- On Wednesday, Franklin County Coroner went before the commissioners to officially request funding for his inquest into the Pasco Police shooting.

Last month, Franklin County Commissioners sent a letter saying Coroner Dan Blasdel never requested funding in the budget for the inquest, thus it wasn't approved because it was never included in the budget at all. 

Blasdel fired back saying he did talk to commissioners about funding the inquest, something he says they're required to do by law. On Wednesday morning, things seemed to finally get worked out. 

After some public back and forth over Coroner Dan Blasdel's inquest into the Pasco Police shooting of Antonio Zambrano in February 2015. Wednesday morning Coroner Blasdel presented two different budgets to the commissioners, and both sides seemed very cooperative.

"I'm happy to support it," Commissioner Brad Peck said. "Not because I take a position on the inquest, but because I think there's a process that should be followed. You've been kind enough to submit a budget and follow that budget and now it's our turn to do our piece and there you have it."

With a unanimous vote, all three commissioners approved funding the inquest. After the meeting, Blasdel was happy with the outcome. 

"Well I pointed out to them what the law was," Blasdel said. "And the law is very simple. It says the coroner has the right to call an inquest and the county has to pay for it, period. Of course I'm pleased." 

According to Commissioner Peck, all the commissioners were waiting for was a formal budget request from Blasdel, which they claim they never received.

"We've not withheld support for an inquest, and we've not withheld support for funding," Peck said. "We simple have never been asked until today."

Blasdel included two budgets Wednesday morning. One estimated at $21,100. That includes using Franklin County court space. And another valued at $32,600 if court rooms aren't made available. 

Commissioner Peck says this process hasn't strained the relationship between the coroner and the commissioners at all. 

"As an aside, I think Dan's a wonderful person," Commissioner Peck said. "I don't have a personal issue with him and I don't know anyone on the board does."

The next step is still unclear. Both the commissioners and Coroner Blasdel are waiting to see if courtroom space can be cleared up, before they consider that option.

If it all gets figured out quickly, the inquest could start as soon as April or May. 

The coroner also announced Prosecutor Shawn Sant has declined to participate in the inquest. Blasdel says Columbia County Prosecutor Rea Culwell has agreed to participate in the inquest in his place. 
 

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