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Friday, February 11, 2011

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GEORGETOWN - Fired Austin police officer Leonardo Quintana pleaded guilty Monday to drunken driving arrest in January 2010 Leander and probably serve a year's probation for the crime.

The arrest came eight months after Nathaniel Sanders II fatally shot in a parking lot of Austin apartment complex as Sanders reached Sanders had a gun to his waist, authorities said. Quintana said that the shooting caused him to turn to alcohol.

Quintana was suspended after 15 days not to activate the patrol car camera during the incident, but was not punished for his tactics or use of deadly force.

On Monday, Quintana entered his plea in a deal with prosecutors before the Williamson County Court-at-Law No. 1 Judge Suzanne Brooks, who accepted the request and scheduled a sentencing hearing for March 7. If Brooks accepts the deal, Quintana will serve 12 months probation and fined $ 400. If he does not comply with the terms of probation, which could serve 180 days in jail and pay an additional fine of $ 1.600.

Quintana pleaded not guilty during his appearance last week, when the trial was scheduled to begin. He changed his plea to guilty after the deal with prosecutors was completed in early afternoon, the lawyer for Jamie Balagî Quintana said.

"He came to court today, the judge looked directly into his eyes and said:" I am guilty of this crime, '\ u2009 "Balagî said." He is being held to account.

"Lenny has never apologized for behavior that night."

The lead county prosecutor in the case, Geoffrey Puryear, said the plea agreement was typical of someone's first offense.

Probation would allow law enforcement to monitor and mandate counseling Quintana said Puryear. Specific conditions of probation will be up Brooks Quintana said Puryear.

Quintana was unavailable for comment after the plea.

Quintana Leandro police arrested early on January 12, 2010, after he crashed his Cadillac Escalade and failed the sobriety tests, officials said. He had spent the night drinking with friends and headed home to Leandro when he crashed his vehicle, police said. Tests showed he had a blood alcohol level of 0.19 at the time, authorities said. The legal limit for driving in Texas is 0.08.

The arrest came after nearly six hours of questioning on 11 January as part of a deposition in a federal civil rights lawsuit over the shooting Sanders.

Balagî said the shooting weighed heavily on Quintana and unsuccessfully reached out, before the arrest, for help from the Police Department after noticing an increase in consumption.

"He went to the apartment and told them he was having a drinking problem because I was having nightmares and inability to sleep because of the impact of the shots," said Balagî. He said his client has not had a drink of alcohol since his arrest.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said he would not discuss what actions the department took "out of respect for private life of Mr. Quintana."

"However, I assure you that our department is aware that an employee has come to ask for help, or they think they need help, without exception, we provide that help," said Acevedo.

Quintana Acevedo fired four months after the arrest, but the arbitrator reinstated him in October with a 15-day suspension. Quintana lawyers successfully argued that Quintana was treated unfairly by the Bureau, which had been charged with drunk driving were not fired.

After a reset, Quintana Acevedo fired a second time amid an allegation of assault involving former girlfriend Quintana.

In November, police Leandro Quintana charged with four misdemeanors related to the indictment. A pretrial hearing on those charges also will be held March 7, the judge said.

Balagî Quintana said he is not guilty of those charges.

With the guilty plea on Monday, Quintana is at risk of losing their professional license enforcement. The state agency that licenses has begun issuing official "hard suspension" in some cases to officials who are convicted of drunk driving - are prohibited from taking enforcement action during that time. Acevedo has said that officials do not have a valid license will be terminated.

Sgt. Wayne Vincent, the union president of the Austin police, said: "We are aware of the plea, and hope that it is calculated that can somehow come back and have a career in law enforcement."

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