AUSTIN (KXAN) - It's been more than two years, and the case of an officer-involved shooting where 18-year-old Nathaniel Sanders was shot and killed by former Austin Police Department Officer Leonardo Quintana will again be in the hands of City Council.
The case has been one of the most heated public discussions in recent Austin history, involving citizens, police and public figures. Fingers were pointed at the Austin Police Department as well as at Sanders, whom Quintana thought pulled a gun on him on May 11, 2009, the night Sanders was shot and killed. A lawsuit was later filed by the Sanders' family, which eventually led the council into talks of settling out of court.
Talk about the high cost of a proposed settlement -- $750,000 -- drew comments that it was too high -- and also was too low.
A complicated history of the case includes the fact that the dashboard camera in Quintana's police car was not turned on the night of the shooting, as per regulations, so pertinent information was missing. While two other officers were on the scene, only one camera was operating and the view provided limited details.
A sub-plot of the case was Quintana's later conviction for driving while intoxicated, his firing by APD -- not once, but twice -- and his attempts to get his job back via arbitration.
There was a citizen review panel and community forum . An outside private investigation was conducted by a Colorado company, KeyPoint Government Solutions , formerly called Kroll Investigations, a company that also investigated a 2007 East Austin shooting.
But the issue of moving forward with a settlement or taking it to court is the question. With the addition of new City Council member Kathie Tovo, who is in favor of settling the case, Council members will dicuss the issue at Thursday's regular meeting. Council member Sheryl Cole is bringing the issue before the group.
Cole has favored approving the settlement, which was proposed and tentatively decided upon in early July 2010, in order to avoid going to court. At the time, the Sanders family and Council members thought this difficult case would be over. However, the Austin Police Association was adamant in its opposition of the settlement agreement , complicating the case. Council member Mike Martinez and Mayor Lee Leffingwell were also against the settlement.
At its July 29, 2010, meeting, the council rejected the proposed $750,000 settlement , causing an uproar with community groups, in particular, NAACP leader Nelson Linder.
On Firday Linder said he expects the council to approve the settlement this time.
"I feel certain right now that based on new leadership, a new kind of awareness, the city will wants to go forward," said Linder. "So I'm pretty certain that on this coming Thursday there won't be a repeat episode from last time."
Thursday's meeting will once again focus the city's attention on all parties in the case as the Sanders family and city officials rehash the events of May 11, 2009, to discuss what is the best decision to be made for all involved.
Cole said Friday that the settlement, if approved, will not exceed $750,000. She said there is a good chance it would be cheaper for the city to settle the case rather than go to court.
"A settlement does not mean liability," said Cole. "A settlement simply means you do not wish to incur the risk of a trial. I am not saying, the city is not saying, that we did anything wrong and this is not any type of indictment against our officers."
However, Austin Police Association president couldn't disagree more.
"When you settle a case such as this, especially when it's been our contention all along and the contention of the investigation that the officer acted appropriately, it's going to leave a cloud on what exactly happened out there," said Sgt. Wayne Vincent.
The case is scheduled to go to trial in federal court in November.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside a vehicle after the child's family was involved in a fender bender, DPS said.
Austin Police confirm they have located an 82-year-old women who went missing last night.
APD is responding to a 25 vehicle accident near the 5400 block of Ed Bluestein near Thurgood Ave.
A man is dead after being hit by several vehicles in the eastbound lane of Highway 71 Saturday night.