Sanders Shooting

KeyPoint calls IA review 'biased'

Nathaniel Sanders II
Nathaniel Sanders II (Photo courtesy of American Youthworks)

The independent investigators commissioned to review the Austin Police Depart­ment inquiry into the shooting death of Nathaniel Sanders II concluded that the APD Internal Affairs investigation was biased, reads a heavily redacted version of the report prepared by KeyPoint Government Solutions.

More specifically, the KeyPoint investigators concluded that the Internal Affairs investigation into the May 11 shooting was "biased toward involved officers in a way which undermines the credibility of the investigation and the confidence which the Department and public have placed in them," reads the report. The investigators reviewed both of the APD's criminal and administrative investigations into the shooting in the parking lot of the Walnut Creek apartments on Springdale Road. In the version of the report released Oct. 5, the investigators also concluded that there are "significant deficiencies in the quality of documentation relating to the training of APD officers."

The redacted copy was released to media Monday afternoon, just before the Citizens Review Panel was set to meet in executive session to discuss the full results. Under state law, the complete report will not be released publicly until after APD Chief Art Acevedo has made his decision on whether the shooter, Officer Leonardo Quintana, will face any disciplinary action as a result of the incident that left Sanders dead and another man, Sir Smith, wounded.

Investigators wrote that while they had "very significant problems with the quality of the Internal Affairs investigation, we nonetheless concluded that the underlying evidence" gathered by criminal and IA investigators – including written statements, physical evidence, crime scene evidence analysis, and the autopsy findings – was "sufficient to allow for independent conclusions to be reached without resorting to a first-party investigation."

During a press conference on Oct. 6, Ace­vedo said that he had reviewed the entire, unredacted report and had determined that there were some problems with the IA investigation – including incidences of investigators using "leading questions" when interviewing involved parties. Further, he said that the department has launched an investigation into one employee, whom he said had shown "bias" during the investigation. Acevedo would not name the employee nor would he say what role the employee played in the investigation. Still, Acevedo said he felt that some of the criticisms from KeyPoint might be attributable to its investigators not understanding that the internal review process is not yet complete – the case is not closed and finished, he said, until he gets a chance to question, face-to-face, the officers involved in the incident during a disciplinary review hearing and then to make the final determination about what discipline, if any, will be imposed.

"One of the challenges" for the independent investigators, Acevedo said, is that the case isn't closed until he signs off. In preparing for the final hearing with Quintana, Ace­ve­do said he has asked a "hand-picked" group of commanders and lieutenants to review the KeyPoint report and decide if there are any questions that remain unanswered.

Under civil service law, Acevedo has until Nov. 7 to decide whether to discipline any of the officers involved in the shooting.

A copy of the (redacted) KeyPoint report is available in the sidebar below.

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police department, KeyPoint Government Solutions, Nathaniel Sanders, Leonardo Quintana, Art Acevedo

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