$750,000 may set­tle po­lice suit

city, fam­ily of man killed last year have OK’d terms in shoot­ing law­suit, sources say

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Tony Plo­het­ski and Marty Toohey

The City of Austin has agreed to terms on a set­tle­ment that would end a fed­eral civil rights law­suit brought by the fam­ily of Nathaniel San­ders II, who was fa­tally shot in May 2009 by se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer Leonardo Quin­tana.

Ac­cord­ing to mul­ti­ple sources, who asked for anonymity be­cause the agree­ment is not com­plete, the two sides have been in me­di­a­tion and agreed to a $750,000 set­tle­ment. The City Coun­cil would still have to ap­prove the deal.

City spokesman Reyne Telles said the coun­cil is sched­uled to pos­si­bly vote on the set­tle­ment at its July 29 meet­ing. Telles said the city has asked for a de­lay in the case, which was sched­uled to go to trial in less than two weeks. He de­clined to elab­o­rate, leav­ing it un­clear why the city’s lawyers pur­sued a set­tle­ment.

Sgt. Wayne Vin­cent, pres­i­dent of the Austin po­lice union, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion has con­cerns that a set­tle­ment would send “an ab­so­lutely wrong mes­sage.” He said union of­fi­cials will meet with coun­cil mem­bers in the com­ing days to ex­press their con­cerns.

“I still hold out hope that the city is not go­ing to cave on this,” he said. “This thing has been to the grand jury (which de­clined to in­dict Quin­tana); it has been in­ves­ti­gated ad nau­seam.”

Adam Loewy, an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing the San­ders fam­ily, said, “We are pleased this case has been re­solved.”

Quin­tana’s at­tor­ney, Robert Icen­hauer-Ramirez, de­clined to com­ment and re­ferred calls to the city. Po­lice

Con­tin­ued from A Po­lice of­fi­cer was fired af­ter DWI ar­rest. Chief Art Acevedo was un­avail­able for com­ment Fri­day.

Quin­tana fa­tally shot San­ders on May 11, 2009, in an apart­ment com­plex park­ing lot af­ter they strug­gled for a gun San­ders had at his waist, of­fi­cials said.

Quin­tana was sus­pended for 15 days for not ac­ti­vat­ing his pa­trol car cam­era but was not dis­ci­plined for his tac­tics or use of deadly force. But a con­sul­tant hired by the Po­lice Depart­ment later de­ter­mined that Quin­tana had used tac­tics that were so “reck­less” that they may have been crim­i­nal.

Acevedo dis­agreed but later fired Quin­tana af­ter a drunken driv­ing ar­rest in Jan­uary.

The shoot­ing and its af­ter­math have roiled City Hall. At first the city would re­lease only a ver­sion of the con­sul­tant’s re­port in which nu­mer­ous por­tions were blacked out. Even­tu­ally a copy of the re­port was leaked to the Amer­icanStatesman, and crit­ics said the city had blacked out so much of the re­port that its con­clu­sions had been fun­da­men­tally al­tered.

The city then said it should not have with­held the unredacted ver­sion but did so be­cause its le­gal staff mis­in­ter­preted a con­tract with the po­lice union.

Then-City At­tor­ney David Smith sub­se­quently re­signed un­der pres­sure from City Man­ager Marc Ott, and coun­cil mem­bers com­plained about the mis­han­dling of the af­fair.

San­ders’ fam­ily filed a fed­eral civil rights law­suit that named both the city govern­ment and Quin­tana in­di­vid­u­ally. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks dis­missed the city from the suit June 27.

Pre­vi­ously, set­tle­ments over of­fi­cer-in­volved shoot­ings have been paid for with money from a re­serve the city main­tains to deal with li­a­bil­i­ties.

The amount of the set­tle­ment is about $250,000 less than what the city paid in two pre­vi­ous of­fi­cer-in­volved shoot­ings. The city paid the fam­ily of Kevin Alexan­der Brown $1 mil­lion af­ter he was fa­tally shot by an of­fi­cer in 2007. In that case, Sgt. Michael Olsen was fired for his tac­tics lead­ing up to the shoot­ing out­side Ch­ester’s Club in East Austin.

A month af­ter the Brown set­tle­ment, the city agreed to pay $1 mil­lion to the fam­ily of Daniel Rocha, who was shot June 9, 2005, by of­fi­cer Julie Schroeder dur­ing a traf­fic stop.

Attorneys for the city had pre­vi­ously pre­vailed in court af­ter it was named in law­suits in­volv­ing the shoot­ing deaths of Sophia King, a men­tally ill woman, in 2002 and Jesse Lee Owens in 2003.

Nathaniel San­ders II

was killed in strug­gle with po­lice of­fi­cer Leonardo Quin­tana.

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