KeyPoint to Investigate Sanders Shooting

The decision has not escaped criticism

Nate Sanders
Nate Sanders (Photo courtesy of American Youthworks)

Austin City Manager Marc Ott announced on Aug. 21 the selection of KeyPoint Government Solutions to conduct an independent investigation into the May police shooting death of Nathaniel Sanders II.

Sanders was shot by Officer Leonardo Quintana on May 11 in the parking lot of the Walnut Creek apartments. Sanders was asleep in a car suspected of being involved in a previous incident at the complex. Police say that when Quintana tried to wake San­ders, the 18-year-old grabbed for a gun that was tucked in his waistband.

After reviewing the investigation conducted by Austin Police Department Internal Affairs detectives, the Citizen Review Panel said last week that it would recommend an outside inquiry. "Based on the facts and circumstances of this case, it is our belief there is a need for an Independent Investigation," Police Monitor Cliff Brown wrote in an Aug. 19 memo to Ott. "We believe [the inquiry] is in the best interest of the community and will increase the community's trust in the investigative process."

KeyPoint to Investigate Sanders Shooting

Ott accepted the recommendation and said he would "in short order" review a list of firms able to handle the task compiled by the city attorney's office. Two days later he tapped KeyPoint, formerly known as Kroll, which, among other things, has experience in "police reform matters" – the company acted as independent monitor for the Los Angeles Police Department, for example, during the eight years the department was under a federal consent decree. Kroll was also the firm tapped in 2007 to conduct the independent inquiry into the APD shooting death of Kevin Brown by former Sgt. Michael Olsen. In that case, APD's internal inquiry found that Olsen's tactics leading up to the shooting did violate APD policy but ended up with an "inconclusive" finding on whether his use of deadly force was justified. Kroll issued a 95-page review of the Internal Affairs investigation, concluding that there were "significant shortcomings" in the internal review but that ultimately the "inconclusive" finding was justified. APD Chief Art Ace­vedo ended up firing Olsen, determining that the use of deadly force was not necessary.

Unlike the Brown shooting – for which the public was told the finding would be inconclusive prior to the independent investigation (a move the Austin Police Association said violated civil service law, because information about the investigation should not have been made public until the disciplinary process was final and an ultimate punishment was meted out) – in the Sanders case, there is still no public information regarding the findings or conclusions of Internal Affairs investigators.

Heading up the KeyPoint investigative team is Jeffrey Schlanger, the company's president and CEO, who also served as the deputy monitor and general manager for the nearly decadelong oversight of the LAPD. A report is due from KeyPoint in late September, well ahead of the Nov. 7 deadline for Acevedo to decide what discipline – if any – should be imposed on Quintana. (The deadline is mandated by civil service law, which allows 180 days from the date of the incident for discipline to be assessed.)

The selection was swift but has not satisfied Skip Davis, attorney for Sir Smith, who was also asleep in the car (which belonged to him) and who was also shot, but lived. Davis said he believes the city should have chosen the independent investigator the way attorneys in civil matters often select arbitrators: Both sides come up with a list of qualified persons or firms, and the first name found to be on both lists is the one that is chosen. That could have been done here, Davis argues, which would have served everybody's interests – the city, the Police Department, and both the Sanders and Smith families.

"This is another bullshit process," Davis says. "There is a lack of transparency with the grand jury, there is a lack of transparency with the police investigation, and now we're letting the city manager ... select a law firm from what list we don't even know." City spokesman Reyne Telles said Ott was pressed on this issue during a press conference last week; pulling everyone into the process is not an option, he said. In the end, Telles said, the choice is Ott's "sole decision."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Nathaniel Sanders II
Questions Remain After Officer-Involved Shootings
Questions Remain After Officer-Involved Shootings
Three APD officers placed on leave after police-involved shootings

Chase Hoffberger, May 29, 2015

Naked City
Naked City
The State of the State, Sanders lawsuit, and more

Feb. 11, 2011

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014


Nathaniel Sanders II, Austin Police Department, Marc Ott, Skip Davis, Citizen Review Panel, Cliff Brown, KeyPoint

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle