AUSTIN (KXAN) - Dozens of family members and friends gathered Tuesday night tomark the one year anniversary of the shooting death of NathanielSanders II by former Austin police officer Leonardo Quintana.
The crowd gathered in the parking lot of the Walnut CreekApartments where a memorial is marked with a cross and many havecontinued to bring flowers throughout the year since theshooting.
Former officer Leonardo Quintana was cleared by a grand jury ofany wrong doing in the shooting although he was suspended by theAustin Police Department for failing to turn on his dash camera andthen fired from the force after getting a DWI.
At the memorial Tuesday evening, dozens of people sang andlit candles. They also read poetry and said prayers asking forpeace and justice.
Nathaniel Sanders, Sr. was in the crowd honoring his son andcalled his killing a "murder."
Verna Smith, whose son, Sir Smith, was also shot by police inthe incident, said she is still looking for closure.
"I just felt that car there and I saw those bodies and it justhurt. It's very, it's just painful," said Smith.
Her son recovered but did not attend the memorial.
"We need to be close to the police department, we need to beable to work with the police department and the community but wecan't do that if these kinds of things keep happening and we don'tget justice," said Smith.
Sanders' father and other family members wore t-shirts with apicture of Nathaniel and the words, "In Loving Memory."
Red and white balloons were released into the air during thememorial.
Many people in the crowd expressed concern over the findings ofan independent review of the shooting which found Quintana usedexcessive force and acted recklessly in pulling the trigger whileinvestigating a suspect vehicle. Two days before the shooting,neighbors had reported gunshots coming from the vehicle thatmatched the description of the one Sanders and Smith were sleepingin.
"I think it is very important that the community get togetherand send out a strong message to the city and to APD that somethingdifferent has to happen with the police interaction with minoritycommunities," said Austin resident Donald Williams.
An APD internal affairs investigation said Quintana did notviolate the department's use of force policy. The Citizens ReviewPanel came to the same conclusion.
The Sanders family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuitagainst the police department, Quintana and the city. It is set fortrial in July.
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