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Austin, Texas Settles Police Shooting Report Access Suit for $12,000

On June 3, 2010, the City of Austin, Texas agreed to pay $12,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP). TCRP Director Jim Harrington said the group agreed to the settlement, which covers TCRP's attorney fees and assesses court costs of $790.95 against Austin, after the city released the document TCRP had been seeking.

The document is a report by the private firm KeyPoint Government Solutions. The city had paid KeyPoint $50,000 to investigate the fatal shooting of Nathaniel Sanders II and wounding of Sir Lawerence Smith by senior Austin Police Officer Leonardo Quintana in May 2009. Quintana had been suspended for 15 days in relation to the shooting for failing to activate his patrol car's video equipment, but was not disciplined for the use of deadly force against the unarmed men. He was fired in May 2010, following an arrest for drunk driving.

In response to the initial TCRP request, the city released a heavily redacted version of the report which included none of KeyPoint's conclusions. Ironically, the redacted report included a suggestion that the city be open and transparent about the investigation.

City Attorney David Smith had resisted disclosure, claiming that a provision in the city's contract with the police union regarding disciplinary investigations rendered the report confidential despite contrary language in the Texas Public Information Act, §552.022(a)(1), Texas Government Code.

Davis retired in May 2010. The city changed its position after it was shown that a similar report had been released in 2004.

See: Texas Civil Rights Project v. City of Austin, 419th Dist. Court, Travis Co, Tex., No. D-1-GN-10-001106.

Additional source: Austin American-Statesman.

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Related legal case

Texas Civil Rights Project v. City of Austin