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Mayor wants more answers about city’s handling of KeyPoint report

Monday, May 24, 2010 by Austin Monitor

Mayor Lee Leffingwell said Sunday, “I don’t think all the questions were fully answered at this point” concerning the city’s handling of the independent report about the death of Nathaniel Sanders at the hands of Officer Leonardo Quintana last May.


Leffingwell added that he is still considering the memo he received Friday from City Manager Marc Ott and the city’s Law Department about the report from KeyPoint Government Solutions. The report’s authors concluded that Quintana used excessive force and flawed tactics in dealing with Sanders. 


The report — which the city commissioned at the request of the citizens review board — concluded that Quintana’s actions were so reckless they may have been criminal. Police Chief Art Acevedo did not agree with those conclusions but did suspend Quintana briefly for failing to turn on his dashboard camera.


Quintana was fired earlier this month for allegedly driving while intoxicated.


Ott and city lawyers prepared the report at Leffingwell’s request after the city decided it could release the full report with the acquiescence of the Austin Police Association. 


Specifically, Leffingwell said, he wants to know what role the city manager’s office played in commissioning the report, “how they came to select KeyPoint and how they handled it after they got it.”


City Attorney David Smith retired suddenly last week, taking “responsibility for any mistakes we (the Law Department) have made.” However, the carefully prepared timeline and memo from Assistant City Attorney Lee Crawford, who is chief of the employment law division, indicates that failing to release the KeyPoint report earlier was not really a legal misstep but a matter of miscommunication.


Crawford’s memo also gives details about the selection of KeyPoint, which the city had used on previous similar investigations and notes that the Law Department recommended KeyPoint. According to the memo, “KeyPoint represented a combination of experience, demonstrated ability to do the job, and strong project team credentials. City management believed that KeyPoint offered the best opportunity to provide a solid, independent analysis that would materially assist the (review board) in its review of the Quintana incident.”


The report shows how the city attorney’s office determined that major portions of the report should not be available to the public because of the complex legal situation created by both state civil service law and the city’s contract with APA. Once they found out through media reports that the association in fact favored releasing the report, it took little time for city management to get together with APA President Wayne Vincent and craft a memorandum of understanding that they believed would facilitate the release of the entire report.  It is not clear why the APA waited for more than six months to tell the city it would approve the release of the KeyPoint report.


Members of the City Council did not get a chance to look at the unredacted portions of the KeyPoint report until the Statesman and The Austin Chronicle printed them after receiving the entire report from an anonymous source. After that occurred, the APA’s Vincent said he favored released of the entire report.


Community activist Debbie Russell indicated by email that she and others would be forming a “City Accountability Council.” Russell demanded answers to numerous questions as well as the hiring of outside counsel to review the Law Department’s decisions related to the shooting and subsequent events. They also demanded replacement of Chief Acevedo as well as empanelment of a new grand jury to reconsider the shooting.

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