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Attorney for former Pasco officer files motion to remove Dan Blasdel from Zambrano Inquest

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PASCO, WA. -- A former Pasco Police Officer involved in the infamous shooting of Antonio Zambrano last year, is asking a Franklin County Judge to remove Coroner Dan Blasdel from the inquest he called. 

Ryan Flanagan resigned from the Pasco Police Department last June. Since then we haven't heard anything from him. This week though, Flanagan's attorney filed a 51-page motion asking a judge to remove Blasdel from the inquest that he's fought to have, claiming Blasdel has a clear bias. 

In the 51-page motion, attorney Scott Johnson claims "from almost the moment the (shooting of Antonio Zambrano) happened, Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel expanded his limited role as coroner turning himself instead into a ringmaster of a self made circus."

"He's said that the reasons he wants to have an inquest are reasons that the law doesn't allow," Scott Johnson said. "He said that it's so the case will be an open book and things like that and that's simply is not a reason to have an inquest. So that's why we're concerned about the fairness."

Johnson argues that because Coroner Blasdel is acting in a quasi-judicial manner in the inquest, he has the requirement of the appearance of fairness. 

"If he's going to hold an inquest and he's acting as a judge and judges have to be fair an impartial, they can't go in with their own agenda," Johnson. "And from his comments in the media, it's clear he has his own agenda."

Johnson represents former officer Ryan Flanagan. According to documents released by Prosecutor Shawn Sant, Flanagan fired the most shots at Zambrano who was throwing large rocks at the officers and later found to be high on meth.

One of Flanagan's shots allegedly crossed a busy intersection and ended up inside a mini mart. We asked Johnson why Flanagan would be interested in having Blasdel removed from the inquest. 

"If there's going to be an inquest and I want to be clear, Ryan is not against an inquest necessarily, but if there's going to be one, it needs to be fair," Johnson said. "You wouldn't want to have a criminal trial where the judge is in the bag with their own agenda from the go."

We talked to Coroner Blasdel on the phone Wednesday afternoon, but he declined to comment for this story. 

Blasdel said he wants to be careful in how he responded to the motion. He wants to consult with his lawyer first before commenting. Blasdel did tell us that the inquest set for May 23rd at Columbia Basin College, will now have to be pushed back yet again.