The Austin Chronicle

Police Union to City: Stand Up and Fight

By Jordan Smith, July 23, 2010, News

With a week left to go before City Council considers a $750,000 settlement of a federal civil rights lawsuit with the family of Nathaniel Sanders II, who was killed by former Austin Police Department Officer Leonardo Quintana in May 2009, Austin police union President Wayne Vincent is encouraging city officials to vote the deal down. Vincent, who heads the Austin Police Association, wrote to the mayor and council last week arguing that settling the case would leave a "permanent impression" that the city "admits this shooting was unjustified and that Officer Quintana alone was responsible for the death of this young man." "Nothing could be further from the truth, and any reasonable person knowledgeable about the facts would agree." Further, he wrote, settling the case "completely counters any intention of city government transparency." Instead, he argues, the city should take the case to trial, where the public can "see all of the facts." Moreover, he argues that the city's history of "such settlements" – including a $1 million settlement in the 2007 police shooting case of Kevin Brown, whose family was also represented by Adam Loewy, the Sanders family's lawyer – sends a dangerous message to "those who still believe they have a right to resist and fight our Police Officers." In the end, Vincent says, the union believes that city officials have a "responsibility" to taxpayers to fight the suit in court. "This is one of those opportunities in which you can demonstrate that support [of the police] by your willingness to fight this battle in court and resist the urge to take the easy way out." Council is expected to vote on the settlement on July 29.

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