May­oral re­gret in San­ders de­bate

But ju­rors should hear shoot­ing case, Leff­in­g­well says

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Tony Plo­het­ski

While main­tain­ing his po­si­tion, Austin Mayor Lee Leff­in­g­well said Fri­day that he re­grets hurt­ing some in the com­mu­nity with his de­ci­sion to re­ject a $750,000 set­tle­ment with the fam­ily of a man fa­tally shot by a po­lice of­fi­cer.

“I would like to have been able to make a de­ci­sion last night that would have per­haps pro­vided some im­me­di­ate re­lief to peo­ple who I know are suf­fer­ing,” Leff­in­g­well said in a state­ment.

How­ever, he said ev­i­dence in the fa­tal shoot­ing of Nathaniel San­ders II should be made fully pub­lic — in court — and that ju­rors should de­cide whether then-se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer Leonardo Quin­tana vi­o­lated San­ders’ civil rights or used ex­ces­sive force.

Leff­in­g­well’s com­ments

fol­lowed a vote in which he and three fel­low coun­cil mem­bers — Mike Martinez, Randi Shade and Chris Ri­ley — re­jected the set­tle­ment with the fam­ily of San­ders, who was fa­tally shot in May 2009 out­side an apart­ment com­plex.

His lat­est com­ments also came on a day in which emo­tions re­mained raw and as some coun­cil mem­bers in­di­cated that they would still like to set­tle with the San­ders fam­ily in­stead of tak­ing the case to trial.

Shade and Ri­ley had said dur­ing dis­cus­sions at Thurs­day night’s coun­cil meet­ing that they would sup­port set­tling the case for $500,000, but fel­low coun­cil mem­bers did not sup­port that mea­sure as they also weighed the $750,000 pro­posal.

Some said that they would need more signs that the San­ders fam­ily would ac­cept that amount.

“I am still hope­ful there will be an op­por­tu­nity for a set­tle­ment,” Shade said Fri­day. “I sin­cerely be­lieve it would be in the best in­ter­est of the com­mu­nity.”

Shade had voted against the $750,000 set­tle­ment, say­ing that a $500,000 pro­posal would be more neu­tral.

Coun­cil Mem­ber Sh­eryl Cole, who sup­ported the $750,000 but re­jected the $500,000 pro­posal, said that she also still wants the case to be set­tled.

“Jury tri­als cost sig­nif­i­cant tax­payer money, do not bring clo­sure or trans­parency,” Cole said. “I would sup­port an­other ef­fort to me­di­ate this case in hopes of a set­tle­ment for the ben­e­fit of the be­reaved fam­ily.”

Coun­cil Mem­ber Bill Spel­man, who voted in fa­vor of the $750,000 set­tle­ment, said he would sup­port the city re­turn­ing to ne­go­ti­a­tions at some point in the fu­ture — per­haps as a trial date nears.

Spel­man said he re­jected the $500,000 set­tle­ment pro­posal Thurs­day be­cause he had no in­di­ca­tion that the San­ders fam­ily would ac­cept it.

San­ders fam­ily at­tor­ney Adam Loewy de­clined to com­ment Fri­day.

Nel­son Lin­der, pres­i­dent of the Austin chap­ter of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple, said he would sup­port any de­ci­sion of the San­ders fam­ily con­cern­ing a re­newed set­tle­ment ef­fort.

Af­ter Thurs­day night’s vote, Lin­der blasted Leff­in­g­well and Martinez, call­ing them “liars,” “un­wor­thy of pub­lic of­fice” and “snakes” as he stood be­fore a bank of TV cam­eras.

Quin­tana fa­tally shot San­ders dur­ing what of­fi­cials have said was a strug­gle for a gun.

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