Crimewatch: Former APD officer talks about fatal shooting of sus - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Crimewatch: Former APD officer talks about fatal shooting of suspect

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Lenny Quintana first made headlines in May of 2009 after shooting and killing Nathaniel Sanders.

In an exclusive interview with FOX 7's Jenni Lee Quintana opens up about the shooting and talks about how even though he has been fired twice from the Austin Police Department, he still wants his job back.

"I attempted to wake the back seat passenger up which was Nathaniel Sanders," said Quintana.

He recounts the night of May 11, 2009, the night he shot and killed Nathaniel Sanders.

"I did a chest rub on him and at one point he reached up and grabbed my hand. I lifted his shirt up and saw a gun on his left side," said Quintana.

"I reached down and immediately yelled out, 32, 32 which is the code for armed suspect. I reached in and grabbed the gun, he with both hands grabbed it and threw himself over to the passenger side and in doing that, I lost grip of it. So I back peddled, me and my partner back peddled and as soon as, I mean it happened so fast I don't even remember drawing my weapon, it was just so quick. The minute I got to the back of the vehicle I saw him come up in the seat in a fast manner as if he were about to come out of the car so I fired the first shot through the back window. That hit him in the chest which means he turned to me and we were facing each other. I fired the second shot and missed," he said.

"I took a step forward and fired a third time, and immediately the passenger door opened and the passenger rushed at me with his hands in his waist band in a crouched down way and I fired on him twice, hitting him once in the chest," said Quintana.

When Quintana found out Sanders was dead, the nightmare for all involved began.

"I have a deep sympathy for the Sanders family because it doesn't matter, I'm a parent, what your child is doing, it's going to hurt the same," said Quintana.

Outrage followed, some threw rocks at officers and patrol cars. A Travis County grand jury eventually cleared Quintana of criminal charges. But the police chief temporarily suspended Quintana for not turning on his patrol car dash board camera. He got 15 days.

Quintana says his punishment shows how he was the escape goat for the Sanders shooting since he was criminally cleared. He says the chief was feeling pressure from some in the community.

"Why was I punished more severely than anybody else?" he asked. "The other officer got three days, I got 15 days for the same exact violation and his camera would have picked up more. Mine wouldn't have picked up anything because the way my car was angled."

When Quintana returned to work nearly seven months later, he says he posted a picture on his Facebook of him holding an AR 15, a semi auto rifle. Quintana says he took the picture for his son. But it and the caption, he wrote, "I'm back," got him in hot water with his chain of command.

"I wanted to show everybody was back in uniform because the job I was put at was a plain clothes job," he said. "I wasn't looking at it from that perspective and my friends and family, the people that were going to see this, weren't going to take it that way."

Quintana says he dealt with all the aftermath by drinking, which led to a DWI charge in January 2010. It was a mistake that ended his job. The first time an arbitrator gave him his job back. But in November of 2010, Quintana faced charges of criminal mischief and assault from a 2008 incident. The accusations came from an ex-fiancee, who was also an APD officer. The chief fired him again.

In 2011, the arbitrator agreed with the chief.

Earlier this year, Quintana went on trial for the alleged crimes against his ex-fiancee. He says she made it all up. The jury didn't buy her story either and he was acquitted.

"The jury still came back with not guilty on all counts," said Quintana.

Now, Quintana wants his job back, but only to leave on his own terms. The single father just wants his name cleared, to find a job, and just get on with his life raising his son by himself.

"It's been really difficult," he said.

But despite the roller coaster the past few years, Quintana still wants to be a cop just not with the Austin Police Department.

Police insiders say while it's possible to overturn an arbitrator's decision, it's very difficult.

Quintana is getting financial help from his family and works odd jobs.

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