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Austin

Full, unredacted independent report on Sanders case released

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After contract talks with the Austin police union, the City of Austin has released the full, unredacted KeyPoint report into the Austin Police Department's investigation of the Nathaniel Sanders shooting.

Former Austin police officer Leonardo Quintana shot and killed Sanders at the Walnut Creek apartment complex in Northeast Austin May 11, 2009. Quintana and fellow officers were responding to a call reporting shots fired in the area and investigating the vehicle Sanders was in as being 'suspicious.'

The city commissioned the independent report after public outcry over APD's criminal and internal investigation and the grand jury's decision not to indict Quintana.

In Oct. 2009, the report was released, however only a heavily-redacted version of the report was released to the public.

But, in the last week, the Austin American-Statesman and The Austin Chronicle released information about redacted portions of the report, based on accounts by reporters who were able to view the document in full.

Since then, an attorney for one the victims said because APD’s statements about the shooting seem inconsistent with the report, he believes APD’s investigation was a police coverup.

The unredacted portions of the report call Quintana's actions leading up to the shooting "reckless," saying he did not use tactics he was trained to use to avoid the shooting.

"We believe his actions, based on his knowledge of the circumstances, his training – particularly with his attendance in the SWAT course and Patrol Tactical course, his experience as a veteran police officer and his status as a field training officer were reckless to the point that he needlessly endangered himself, his fellow officers, the suspects and the onlookers," the report states.

Police Chief Art Acevedo said in October, when the redacted report was released to the public, that the KeyPoint report confirmed the competency of APD's criminal investigation.

After Acevedo's final review of APD's criminal and internal investigations and the KeyPoint report, Quintana was given a 15-day suspension for failure to turn on his dashboard camera.

Quintana was fired a little more than a week ago due to a drunken driving charge he received in Leander in January.

The city said it couldn't release the full report before, because of an existing contract between the city and the APD union, the Austin Police Association.

The city said that contract was intended to create transparency, but ended up being more restrictive.

City Manager Marc Ott recently ordered his staff to meet with union representatives. The city and the union reached an agreement clarifying what information would be released whenever a review or investigation is performed.

The city said its inability to release the report before, should not be seen as an attempted coverup.

"The entire independent investigation was released to the citizens' oversight committee," Austin Asst. City Manager Michael McDonald said. "You remember when we created the oversight committee, it was meant to be the eyes and ears of the public. Prior to that only, internal affairs was able to look at that investigation."

APD and the City of Austin had previously said they would not release the unredacted report because the move would violate civil service laws.

City officials said the judge in a federal lawsuit filed by the Sanders family issued a gag order, preventing them from releasing the information.

The city then issued its information to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott requesting a ruling on the matter. Abbott agreed with the city, saying state law protected the information.

The city argued the report contains allegations against a police officer that must remain confidential, since they did not result in discipline lasting more than one day.

The attorney general, however, also advised the city that if it adjusted its contract with the APA, it could release the report.

Under the new agreement, information will be released when an independent company reviews existing internal affairs documents.

When a private company conducts an actual investigation, however, only the findings and conclusions of that investigation will be released.

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