Sanders Report

TCRP takes city to court

Police accountability and transparency were the main themes during Tuesday's civil court hearing in connection with a lawsuit filed by the Texas Civil Rights Project. The TCRP is seeking release of an unredacted version of KeyPoint Gov­ern­ment Solutions' report on the independent investigation into last May's police shooting death of Nathaniel Sanders II.

TCRP lawyer Scott Medlock argued to visiting Judge Joe Hart that the stated purpose of the report was to assure the community that the investigation was complete and done properly. Portions of a heavily redacted copy discuss issues with officer training, for example, but the conclusions section of the report has been entirely blanked out, said TCRP Director Jim Harrington during testimony. "It raises all kind of alarms about what is going on."

But the city argued that the report must remain in redacted form because, although it was conducted by an outside firm, it was really only an extension of the internal administrative inquiry into the shooting case. As such, the city argued, the law only allows for the release of portions related to Austin Police Department policy violations – such as information regarding Officer Leonardo Quintana's failure to activate his in-car video recorder before the fatal encounter with Sanders.

Chief Art Acevedo was called to testify, telling the judge that transparency is important to building trust between the community and department but that there are limits imposed by state civil service law: "I think ... members of the public that understand the rule of law understand there are limits to transparency," he said. Still, the TCRP argued that state civil service law is not at issue and that the police employment contract with the city specifically allows for the release of all such independent investigation reports.

Hart is expected to issue a ruling in the case next week.

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Texas Civil Rights Project, KeyPoint Government Solutions, Nathaniel Sanders II, Leonardo Quintana, Art Acevedo

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