No Criminal Indictment in Sanders Shooting
The criminal investigation into Nathaniel Sanders' death has come to a close
The shooting happened after Quintana spotted a gold Mercedes in the parking lot of the Walnut Creek apartments, a car earlier reported by residents as connected to random gunshots. Sanders was asleep in the back seat when Quintana approached. What happened next is a matter of debate: Police say Quintana tried to wake Sanders and that as the teen awoke, he grabbed for a gun tucked into his waistband. Quintana, they say, feared for his life and shot Sanders. (Another man, Sir Lawrence Smith, who was asleep in the front seat, was also shot but lived and was not charged with any crime.)
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said evidence showed that once Quintana saw the gun in Sanders' waistband, the two struggled, with Sanders leaning back away from the officer in order to maintain control of the weapon. "Quintana moved quickly backward, away from the door, and alerted his fellow officers that there was a gun," Lehmberg said in a prepared statement. From the rear of the car, Quintana then fired three times, striking Sanders once in the chest and a second time in the back of the head.
But Adam Loewy, the attorney representing Sanders' family, said that the evidence is not as straightforward as police and prosecutors say – and that the shot to the back of Sanders' head suggests Quintana was not in physical jeopardy at the time he shot the teen. "The Sanders family is very disappointed with the Grand Jury's decision not to criminally indict ... Quintana," he wrote. "We believe a civil jury will hold Officer Quintana accountable for his unlawful actions and use of excessive force, and we look forward to having this case heard in open court."
The grand jury's return signals the end of the criminal investigation into the shooting. Still pending is the administrative inquiry, which will determine whether Quintana broke any APD policies or procedures during the fatal incident.