The state trial court is probing why slain cop killer and convicted cocaine trafficker Jorge Zambrano was free to roam the streets despite repeated brushes with police and multiple probation violations in the past five months.
Zambrano, 35, was shot and killed by troopers Sunday 18 hours after they say he murdered Auburn police officer Ronald Tarentino, 42.
Court officials could not explain yesterday why Zambrano was not in jail for his probation violations and why he wasn’t forced to wear a GPS monitoring device.
“Jorge Zambrano had both past and pending cases in the court system including serving a seven-year state prison sentence,” Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey said in a statement. “We are carefully examining all of the circumstances regarding Jorge Zambrano’s criminal history in order to determine whether additional systemic steps should have been taken in his case.”
A Herald review found Zambrano had been in court — and sprung — multiple times this year, court records show, including:
–An arrest May 16 in Worcester when police noticed him driving an Acura with plates that belonged to a Nissan Maxima. He was charged with driving with a suspended license, driving an unregistered motor vehicle and a number plate violation to conceal his ID. He was arraigned that day and let go on personal recognizance.
–Testing positive for cocaine on April 11 and April 25, self-reporting for cocaine on April 22, self-reporting for Suboxone use on April 11, missing a drug screening on April 8, and missing visits with his probation officer on April 4, April 8, April 11 and April 22. Zambrano was in court May 11 and again walked out — the hearing was rescheduled for June 9 so a lawyer could be present.
–On March 4, he was charged with assault and battery on a family member, resisting arrest and operating after revocation of his license in Clinton District Court, according to his lawyer. He was released on $500 cash bail, although the district attorney had asked for a much higher amount, according to his defense attorney, Anthony Scola.
–On Jan. 24, Zambrano was arrested in Worcester and charged with assault and battery on a police officer and resisting arrest. The arresting officer said Zambrano grabbed his uniform shirt and pulled him into a car, which had a large pit bull inside. Zambrano was released on personal recognizance.
Zambrano previously served two stretches in state prison for cocaine trafficking, possession and assault charges — including attacking cops.
Gov. Charlie Baker said yesterday there will be a “series of investigations around all of this,” from the deadly shooting of Tarentino to that of Zambrano by police.
“There’s a lot we know at this point but there’s obviously a lot we don’t know,” Baker said. “We’ll be looking at all aspects.”
Scola noted that on May 16, the court could have elected to hold his client for violating his bail warning in the Clinton case, but added, “it was a minor motor vehicle charge, it would be unusual to hold someone in that situation.”
Asked why his client was not held for the probation violations, Scola said, “You’d have to ask probation what their thinking was on that. … He self-reported taking drugs, that might have gone into his favor.”
The attorney added the court “could have assigned him counsel for the day and had a hearing. They would have had a detention hearing to revoke his bail on any of his pending charges.”
Scola said he never saw the darker, violent side of Zambrano, reacting with dismay to his late client’s weekend attack.
“It’s a tragedy,” Scola said of the death of Tarentino. “I knew the officer a bit … he was a nice guy. It’s a tragedy. I feel for his family that something so tragic could happen.”
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