Podcast: Walnut Creek Apt. residents speak out after officer fatally shoots youth


Broken glass from shattered police car windows

Early this morning 18-year-old Nathaniel Sanders was fatally shot by Austin Police officer Leonardo Quintana at the Walnut Creek Apartment Complex in East Austin. I arrived at the scene at about noon and spoke to residents who were gathered outside. These voices are not being heard enough right now. This podcast just aired on KVRX minutes ago.

Download the MP3 here and feel free to re-broadcast. Transcript below.

This Mediahacker.org podcast was recorded on the afternoon of May 11 2009, the day after Mother’s Day. At the Walnut Creek Apartments just south of highway 183 and Manor road in Austin, a mother named Destiny woke up to gunshots earlier this morning.

18-year-old Nathaniel Sanders is dead. According to the Austin Police Department, Sanders and two other men were sleeping in a car parked in the complex, when an Austin Police officer approached the vehicle. Police say they suspected the vehicle had been used in recent robberies.

Officer Leonardo Quintana took the man in the driver’s seat into custody, then came back for the other two men. APD says Quintana saw a weapon in Sanders’ lap and shot him. Police say the third individual got out of the car and charged the officer. The officer shot him too – that man is now recovering in the hospital.

Austin Police chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference he believes the deadly shooting of Sanders was legal.

Destiny, holding her baby and standing just yards away from where Nathaniel Sanders was shot to death, said APD was out of control.

Gathered around their doorsteps and cars in the early afternoon, here is some of what other residents of Walnut Creek Apartments had to say about the shooting. Almost everyone asked not to be identified by name.

Hours earlier, at least one individual was arrested after rocks were thrown at police cars. Destiny said the community’s healing process had just begun.

Nathaniel Sanders’ death comes almost two years after Kevin Brown was fatally shot in the back while fleeing from officer Michael Olson outside Chester’s Nightclub. This has been a mediahacker.org podcast .

5/14 Update: APD is claiming that Sanders reached for a weapon near his waist. Cross posted to Houston Indymedia.

Flashback to two years ago: austin indymedia: Shot in the Back: APD, City of Austin, and Corporate Media Blame Shooting on East Austin Club

19 thoughts on “Podcast: Walnut Creek Apt. residents speak out after officer fatally shoots youth”

  1. I think is like most cases. The guy has a record. Everybody wants to prove how innocent an 18 year old is with a weapon. In reality there is nothing innocent about it. Someone stated in the podcast that deadly force has to be encountered by shooting the suspect on the leg or the arm. That only proves the ignorance of some communities. There should be classes that teach the public what Penal Code is, what Code of Criminal Procedure is, and what Rules and Regulations take place on Deadly Force cases. Because most officers follow that. Of course, there is cases where officers due screw up. I don’t believe this is the case, but the investigation continues. All the people that riots without a concrete answer are foolish to think that making a mockery of the system is going to change things. The same people that have the mentality of distruction that most thugs have are the ones that are making a circus of their own neighborhood. Looking for an opportunity to attack because they think is cool not to like the Police.
    The death is unfortunate, but think about the officer’s family. He chose to uphold the law. The kid chose to have a gun in a public place. Put two and two together and you have tragedy. Where was the community when this kid was around drugs, robberies, etc? I would like to know. That’s when ” I’m my brother’s keeper” come to play do not try to cover the water hole after the baby drowned. Too late. Sorry that his family has to suffer. All the other people are just trying to get attention like they care about their communities when they let thugs control their neighborhoods. Listen to the podcast and peoples way of speaking. Ignorance and anger. Very bad mix. Like I said I feel for the kids family. My resentment is that all those people could’ve help the kid and they never did.

  2. Manny, even though I find your comment offensive and stupid on multiple levels, I’m not going to remove it. You’re making unfounded assumptions right and left about community members and giving the police the benefit of the doubt. It’s folks like you that allow this cycle of violence to continue by giving the police a pass. According to the folks I interviewed, Sanders was shot in the head. In the head. And somehow that’s their fault?

  3. Here is the deal, I feel really bad for the family and the child because he did have a chance in life, if he figured out how to get away from the bad and do something positive with his life. However, what would have happened if the person he robbed would have had a gun and shot him in the head? Would people still be asking why the head? The child was young, but not innocent? Where were his friends and family when he had 35 grams of crack cocain last year, and when he robbed the man downtown? In the podcast the people are mad, angry and upset however insulting the APD is not going to help. The majority of the problem is not the police, but the people and the crime in East Austin. If there wasnt so much crime in that particular area than the cops probably wouldnt have been there patrolling the area, and therefore the child wouldnt have been shot. We live in AUSTIN TEXAS, not LA where there is a large amount of crooked cops….Cops are here to protect and serve and the problem with APD is not the actual police force but the Citizens not allowing them to do their jobs, and continuing to teach their young and fellow citizens that cops are bad! Lets look at the crime rate in Round Rock, next to none….why is it like that? Because the citizens allow and support the police force to do their jobs. The bottom line is that it is sad, its sad that he was shot in the head by a police officer trying to protect the community, however, at the rate of crime in the East Austin area, the police will not be the ones shooting people in the head it will be the fellow citizens. Without the police force patrolling the area there would be alot more crime. And if you think that the cop is just going to go home and eat dinner with his F****** without thanking that he shot a child today, than your wrong. When the citizens of the East Austin community start trusting and realizing that COPS are not bad, and that the only reason they think that is because they are always constantly introuble, than the crime rate would decrease. It is really sad that this poor boy didnt have a chance to change his life and become a positive person, but on the rate that he was going someone else could have hurt him protecting themselves from his assault or hurt him because he was around drugs and bad friends.

  4. F###k the police!!!! Crime rates in east austin have steadily gone down each year….Austin is one of the safest cities in america…In fact the areas with the most robberies, burglaries etc is west of 35, the damn college students going to UT.

    That damn police officer wasnt protecting the community, in fact the police are considered to be major in that community along with the thugs, drug dealers and and other criminal elements.

    Every communtiy has a right to be both safe from crime and free from police harassment. They shouldnt be forced to live in a police state because they happen to live in a high crime area. Police officers are not your friends…they are you enemy! Well at least mine…



  5. Community Organizer from Colony Park!
    As a former drug dealing criminal , i come before you today to plead for assistance with the problems with the black males in this city.The mindset of the black male could possibly set off a civil war right here in Austin,Texas…These drug dealing vigilantes are a threat to the progression of our society…They are also products of our society.So it is our incumbant duty as humans on G-D earth to help them.Now i see the smaller children headed towards the same mentality.And if we think the current structure of AISD and other school districts will help us curb this we are foolish.The kids at Barbara Jordan and Gus Garcia is terrorizing the teachers and students.What a wonderful and bright future we have to look forward to from African-American children.WE NEED HELP FROM THE SCHOOL DISTRICT,CITY,STATE, and all other authorities!And to be honest with you if we dont start getting the HELP we need these guys criminal activity will spill into all neighborhoods..We should protect our society from this behavior not encourage it.WE NEED TO BECOME PROACTIVE instead of becoming reactive as we witnessed another police shooting in this city!WE HAVE MAJOR PROBLEMS AND THEY MUST BE ADDRESSED.We cant continue to carry on as though every thing is great in AMerica its not and never have been for the former slaves.The CREATOR would not continously send MESSENGERS to the Blacks if everything was ok.(Frederick Douglass,MLK,ETC)The Comprehensive Plan should include the communities..So i wish to have community forums to listen to the community and see where they want to take our community too.Because we have to live in the HOOD while the Politicians live their happy go lucky lives and make decission for us.There are very few REAL community leaders in Austin,Tx.MEEt your newest one me!I will not go away until G-D MOST HIGH takes me away!A CONCERNED CITIZEN!

  6. That was mess up how they handle the problem cause it dont make no real reason my he need to shot him if the gun was on his lap but they said it was on his waste then someone is lieing and i think its the police cause they always try to come their ass when they in wrong. But If it was on his lap they was train to remove weapon from people especailly if it was on his lap. then on top of that he had back up and it was three against two that dont sound right if they could not take them down.I think APD is a waste of money why do we real have them..

  7. I can certainly understand that the police officers have to be couscous for each and everytime they go on a call their lives can be in danger. No, the 18 year old shouldn’t have had a gun and charges should have been brought against him for having it. But police officers need to follow the rules of not shooting unless the suspect has a gun in his/her hand. It states that this young man was asleep in the car with it on his lap. I am sure there was a better way to handle this situation than killing him. Let’s get something clear, if you are a police officer, you have decided to put your life in harms way to protect and serve the community not approach situations with such fear that it causes you to make irrational decisions. There is not excuse for what happened here. If indeed this young man was asleep, this officer is guilty.

  8. You wrote:

    “APD says Quintana saw a weapon in Sanders’ lap and shot him.”

    There is a term for this, it’s called libel:

    Now, if you want to believe (for whatever self-serving reason) that the deceased was sleeping at the time of shooting, that’s your right and worth investigation… but when you allow unsubstantiated rumors by non-witnesses to go unchallenged and then edit the official APD claim that he “was reaching for a weapon” to say that he merely incidentally had one in his lap. That’s when you’ve crossed the line from journalism to intentional misinformation.

  9. Libel? Keep up the troll-like stuff and you’re going to get banned.

    This story was still developing as I produced the audio on Monday. I had not seen an official APD statement that he reached for the weapon. All I heard from a few news reports was that the weapon was in or near his lap. I reported this – you can go to any news site and read what APD is now claiming, which incidentally doesn’t contradict my narration. I did add an update with APD’s current claim to the bottom of the post.

  10. Ansel while I do agree that police can be very corrupt, I think we need to reconsider what happened.

    A guy may or may not be conscious, you walk up to his car, and he points a gun at you. While I don’t think anyone is happier that the victim is now deceased, when a police officer is put in a life-threatening situation he has the right to use lethal force. Police are trained and required to protect their lives when put in this type of situation.

    Also, when I read that you have dubbed yourself an “anarchist,” I figured that this site would accept any comments from anyone. When I see you threatening other people, I realize the true irony. Even though you believe you are an anarchist, you don’t know how to deal with an opposing viewpoint. I would call this closer to fascism than really anarchism.

  11. Yikes! The typical shallow misunderstanding of anarchism strikes again. Anarchism ≠ anyone can say or do anything they want. That’s another discussion – please stay on topic and avoid the hyperbole about fascism, threats and other nonsense.

    Maybe Officer Quintana was in a life-threatening situation in the moment he approached the car a second time. We don’t know yet.

    I do think our analysis needs to extend beyond that particular moment. Why did the police decide to approach the car at that time, when it was dark? Was that a proper decision – after the two previous police killings of youth of color also took place at night on the Eastside? Why was only one officer carrying out the arrests? Why did Quintana fire at the third man, who allegedly lunged at him, instead of using non-lethal weapons? And as KC said above, crime rates have been going down in East Austin. Who are the police protecting and serving?

  12. Wow, I’m a little bit proud of News 8 Austin. Here are a few excerpts from it and the box they included with four APD shootings in the last 7 years.

    “Officer-involved shootings are uncommon in Austin,” Mayor Will Wynn said at the beginning of the press conference.

    “• Sophia King, a black woman with a history of mental illness was shot and killed by an APD officer in June 2002 as she was running towards an East Austin housing project manager wielding a knife. The officer was hailed for saving the life of the housing manager. But testimony in court cast aspersions on the police for not properly dealing with a woman they must have known was mentally ill. The case raised awareness in how officers are trained to deal with people with mental illness.

    • Jesse Lee Owens, a black man, was shot and killed by an APD officer in June 2003. Officer Scott Glasgow was later indicted by a Travis County grand jury, but the indictment was quashed by a state district judge for lack of evidence. Glasgow was eventually reinstated to the police department, but in a non-patrol role.

    • Daniel Rocha, a Hispanic man, was shot in the back at close range by Officer Julie Schroeder in June 2005. Schroeder was later fired for failing to following correct police procedure. But a Travis County grand jury declined to indict her in the case.

    • Kevin Brown, a black man, was shot several times and killed by Officer Michael Olsen in June 2007. Olsen was fired from the police force and that firing was upheld by a civil service commission.

    Each of the officers involved in these four shootings was white.”

    On the camera situation:
    [Information from APD press release] “• Acevedo said of the three patrol cars on the scene at the time of the shooting, one vehicle’s dashboard camera was functioning for a substantial portion of the incident, another was not activated and the third is being reviewed for functionality at this time. ”

    [Slightly contradictory and all-around sketchy information from another News 8 Austin article]

    “Austin’s police chief said Monday’s officer-involved shooting in East Austin was recorded on an officer’s dashboard camera.

    Chief Art Acevedo Wednesday said the video, however, is not from the car of the officer who fired the shots.

    Police are also trying to figure out why two other officers at the scene did not turn on their cameras.

    Acevedo said all three were working and he’s glad at least one recorded everything on tape.”

    Two things terrify me about this situation. 1) That there have been so many people of color shot by white APD officers and that Will Wynn still thinks it’s “uncommon” and 2) That two of the three officers involved, according to our very own police chief, “did not turn on their cameras”. That would be an interesting angle to pursue.

    This is just another case where the police force is closing ranks around the complicit officer and clinging desperately to claims that the suspect was reaching for a weapon. Two years ago, Michael Olson claimed that Kevin Brown, who was running AWAY from him, was reaching for a gun, to justify his shooting Brown several times in the back. Brown was found to be unarmed. Not that I’m claiming Sanders was unarmed, it’s just that no coverage of the shooting has confirmed that detail and precedence demonstrates that APD has a history of making false claims to get out of a pinch.

    Ultimately, I hope Destiny’s right and that people do start to pay attention to the growing death rate in East Austin due to cops killing kids. An issue that was more prevalent in the Kevin Brown murder but I think is still relevant here is the issue of gentrification and police involvement in the neighborhood’s changing dynamic.

    Links to both articles cited in this comment.

  13. A response to all the defamatory comments made about Sanders being involved in gangs, drugs, etc.: Y’all don’t know shit about this kid, hardly any of the public does yet. You just assumed all that from the “black kid and gun” relationship. Shut your fucking racist mouths.

    (You can remove this comment if you want, Ansel, I just needed to blow off some steam.)

  14. K.

    Sanders’ criminal history is a matter of public record… he’d just been arrested for assault a few days earlier and was out on bail with a gun in a car suspected of other robberies.


    My questions are why did it take the medical examiners so long to arrive on the scene, and why didn’t the shooting officer have his camera on.

    It’s also interesting to note that the rumor that Sanders was shot while sleeping, and not while reaching for a gun is so wide spread.

    Why is this? Is it that people distrust the officer’s account and have developed their own counter-theory, or is it that people honestly believe this is the substantiated truth? Anyone know of any eye-witness accounts? It’ll be interesting to hear what the wounded suspect has to say.

  15. Wow..there are a bunch of rabid cop haters on this blog. I have had my fair share of run-ins with law enforcement and each of them have been because I did something wrong or AGAINST THE LAW. With statements like ” Why do we need the APD anyway” to “They are the enemy” and Ansel exclaiming to one of the posters “Libel? Keep up the troll-like stuff and you’re going to get banned.”. Is Ansel really a free lance journalist or just a concerned citizen who started a website where people could give their opinions regarding Police inpropriaties. If Ansel were a JOURNALIST he would first tell both sides of the story, then would give the location and time lines along with a background of the victim(s). When you see that the officers arrested one suspect and came back to get the others DO YOU HONESTLY BELIEVE the officer came back and just said SHHH I’m going to shoot this kid in the head while he’s sleeping???? If you think the kid is an angel and the officer is just one of those kid killers go and check on the victims rap sheet, Why did the cops stop them in the first place? THEY WERE ARMED ROBBERY SUSPECTS!! I am tired as hell of the cop card being thrown around when it’s not warranted as much as I hate the race card being pulled when it just comes down to a kid did something wrong and unfortunately was killed. It’s sad it’s tragic and it’s painful for the family of the victim and the officer and his family. I’m sure both sides go to sleep at night wishing that things would have turned out different. Moral of the story” Dont rob people and dont carry an unregistered gun in your lap. It’s against the law!”

  16. blankman, they were not armed robbery suspects. Get your facts straight.

    “Is Ansel really a free lance journalist or just a concerned citizen who started a website where people could give their opinions regarding Police inpropriaties.” I’m both, actually. The cops’ point-of-view was over-represented in the local mainstream media. Multiple news stories identified Sanders as a “documented gang member” based on the say-so of the police, not any documentation, for example.

  17. This is fantastic Ansel. Thanks for the podcast and for allowing comments on this issue.

    It’s no wonder why people are so opinionated about this, and on both sides of the fence. You’ve got your police defenders and police haters. But, pay close attention – Usually the police defenders are people who have never experienced racism and poverty in any real sense. They’ve also never experienced institutionalized oppression, deprivation and marginalization, nor do they really believe that these kinds of things really exist. The defenders, the ones who immediately jump to defend the actions of the police in almost every circumstance and certainly before a good portion of the facts are in, are most certainly people who are white or lighter skinned, and have enough personal resources to move into their own safe and protected little areas. In other words, these people usually see the police working for them, defending their life and property. And, they’re right. However, they also believe the fallacy that the same goes for everyone else, regardless of your race, wealth or class. It’s a false impression that many, many people have who can and do turn a blind eye to how other people, not nearly as fortunate as they are, are treated by the police. I’ve seen, heard and read about it too many times for there not to be a systemic issue of misuse of power with APD. Just stand outside the ARCH in downtown Austin, at any time of day where the homeless are forced to gather. First, there is always a police presence at that location. Always. Second, APD is notorious for selectively enforcing certain laws against the homeless, eg, the no sitting or lying on the sidewalk law. There has been case after case of homeless persons who have no resources being strong-armed by the police. This is also a good example of the many, many strong-armed tactics used by the police that you will never read or hear about. Yes, APD is your friend if you have wealth, or if not your friend, you at least will be treated with decency and respect. But APD can be your worst nightmare if you are poor and black, or hispanic. Ask yourselves – if the same scenario took place in Westlake with three clean cut white guys in a car, would the same thing have happened? Probably not.


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