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Mayor wants details on legal decisions concerning shooting report

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 by Austin Monitor

Mayor Lee Leffingwell has asked City Manager Marc Ott to provide “a detailed written accounting of city staff’s decision-making process” regarding the consultant’s report on the 2009 shooting death of Nathaniel Sanders at the hands of Officer Leonardo Quintana.


The mayor aimed his questions specifically at “legal opinions regarding the report that were shared with the City Council by the City Attorney.” In addition, Leffingwell said he wanted the report “to specifically address the role of the City Manager’s office in commissioning, receiving, reviewing and releasing the report.” He asked Ott to provide the information by the end of this business week.


According to the report by consultants KeyPoint Government Solutions, Quintana used excessive force and flawed tactics in dealing with Sanders. The writers of the KeyPoint report —which the city commissioned at the request of a Council-appointed citizens group — concluded that his actions were so reckless they may have been criminal.


Chief Art Acevedo did not agree with those results but suspended Quintana for 15 days for not activating his patrol car camera. Acevedo fired Quintana for allegedly driving while intoxicated earlier this month.


Leffingwell said he was concerned that the Council had been led to believe that it would be a violation of state law to release the full report to the public last fall when it was completed. The city released a redacted version but that did not allay suspicions about the shooting. The Texas Civil Rights Project also sued the city over its failure to release the report.


Last week, several media outlets released the full report and The Austin American-Statesman did a detailed story pointing out that the report on a previous fatal police shooting had been released.


On Tuesday, Leffingwell told In Fact Daily, “We need to discuss this whole process, how it came about and what we can do to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.” He said he wanted a report on “the whole process of the rationale for not disclosing it.” He noted that he had been told, “pretty firmly based in state law” that the report could not be released. “And then all of a sudden we could disclose it. It just seemed to me that it should have been on firmer ground.”


Asked for his impression of what had previously determined whether a report was released, Leffingwell said, “If (the Chief of Police) agrees with the opinions in the report then he releases them. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t release them.” He added, “I would say it lacks a little bit of rationality.”


Ott said what the mayor had requested is “just a report (in which) I answer his questions … Frankly I think it’s a pretty matter-of-fact kind of response. He’s asked a series of questions … We’re going to submit a response. He asked for our response by the end of the week. We’re going to try to accommodate that.”

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