Mayoral regret in Sanders debate
But jurors should hear shooting case, Leffingwell says
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.
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.