AUSTIN (KXAN) - In a tear-filled testimony, former Austin Police DepartmentDetective Chris Dunn testified for four hours on Friday morning inan arbitration hearing to get his job back.
"This is the worst thing to happen to me and my family," Dunnsaid.
Dunn's emotional testimony highlighted a week-long hearing by anindependent arbitrator over whether Dunn should get his detectivejob back. Dunn was fired over e-mails he wrote last year during aninternal affairs inquiry into whether Austin police officerLeonardo Quintana used excessive force in the May shooting death ofNathaniel Sanders, then 19. Police said Sanders was shot becausethey thought he was pulling a gun on them.
Austin Police Department Chief Art
During his testimony, Dunn mentioned the family tragedies thathappened during his suspension, including the deaths of his fatherand brother and his mother's stroke.
"I'm a good cop," a tearful Dunn said. "I'm not the best cop,but I'm a good cop. And I'm being told that I'm a piece of[expletive], but I'm not."
During the fifth day of Dunn's reinstatement hearing, Dunn'sattorney Tom Stribling asked specifically about the e-mail Dunnsent to fellow investigators Sgt. Gutierrez, Sgt. Patrick Connorand retired Detective Shawn Harkin who testified Thursday and whohad also received disciplinary action.
In the e-mail in question, Dunn suggested investigators coulduse Sander's criminal history as a causation of the shooting. Healso bragged in a subsequent e-mail about how smart that ideawas.
When asked if he remembered the e-mail, Dunn responded,"Unfortunately I do."
Just before 11 a.m. Friday, Assistant City Attorney ConnieAcosta cross-examined Dunn.
Towards the end of her cross-examination of Dunn, Acostaasked Dunn about his reaction to Acevedo's conversation with Dunnafter the e-mails were discovered in which the chief referred toDunn as "damaged goods" and said he would not be allowed to bring"discredit to the department."
"I expected a chewing like I've never had at anytime in mylife because of what this all looked like," he said.
Acosta asked: "When the chief (Acevado) asked if theinvestigation you had was fair and impartial, you said 'absolutelynot'. Correct?"
"Yes ma'am" Dunn replied.
Acosta's questioning was about Dunn's loss of credibility,asking "What happens when it's your word against a victim's? Whathappens when it's your word against a confession taken by a felonthat denies it?"
Dunn answered that he'd have to prove himself to the departmentand to the public again.
"It's always going to come into question for a period of timeuntil my track record is proven again," he said.
Later Acosta followed with: "There is no guarantee that youwould never do the same thing again in the future."
Dunn replied: "I will never do the same thing again."
When his attorney, Gary Stribling, asked about him pinningSanders as the cause of the shooting Dunn replied: "I wish I couldtell you what my thought process was. There's no excuse, obviously.Poorly written, opened my mouth and put my foot in."
Other questions from Stribling included the use of leadingquestions used during the investigation and proper traffic-stopprocedure of suspects - with specific reference to the incidentsinvolving former officers Julie Schroeder and Mike Olsen. Both wereofficer-involved shootings of suspects.
Acevedo took the stand Thursday and said he stood by hisdecision to rid the department of someone he has referred to beforeas "damaged goods."
"He was biased and that was completely contrary to the ethicssubscribed to by the members of the Police Department," Acevedosaid." Most certainly, extremely egregious when it's done by amember of internal affairs who are suppose to be the gatekeepers ofthe organization."
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