Former Austin Police Department

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Former Austin Police Department Officer Leonardo Quintana pled guilty to drunk driving Monday, after his January 2010 arrest in Williamson County. The jury trial, set to begin Monday, did not take place after Quintana pled guilty to Williamson County prosecutors the same day. The sentencing is scheduled for March 7 and gives more time for pre-investigation into the case, Quintana’s DWI lawyer Jamie Balagia said. “We’ve cut a deal on plea bargain for one year of probation, a $400 fine and the standard condition of probation for a DWI — the judge will of course add any other additional requirements that will benefit the case,” Balagia said. Quintana became a center of controversy after the May 2009 shooting of 18-year-old Nathaniel Sanders II. Quintana, who hasn’t consumed alcohol since his January arrest, attempted to go to APD for help when he realized the extent of his problem, Balagia said. Quintana faces four misdemeanor charges, including two counts of assault, one count of criminal trespass and one count of criminal mischief in two separate altercations with his former fiancee, Lori Noriega, who is also an APD officer. Pre-trial for these charges is scheduled to begin after the DWI sentencing. “We are looking for a good sentencing,” Balagia said. “Leonard would like to move forward with his life and resume his career as an Austin police officer.”

Former Austin Police Department Officer Leonardo Quintana was released from the Williamson County Jail on Tuesday night after posting his $8,000 bond.

Police arrested Quintana on Tuesday for four previous misdemeanor crimes during two incidents. The charges included two counts of assault, one count of criminal mischief and one count of trespass in two separate altercations with his former fiancee, Lori Noriega, who is also an APD officer.

Will Mitchell, a criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Jamie Balagia, said the main question is why Leander police arrested Quintana a year later.

“Certainly nothing has happened in the past year,” Mitchell said. “[Noriega] did not believe Quintana was criminally responsible for anything at the time. Allegations resurfaced when Quintana was fired the second time, and protective orders were filed.”

According to probable cause affidavits, Quintana demanded that Noriega return an engagement ring after she said she wanted to end their five-year relationship.

Quintana, who was under the influence of alcohol, tried to pull the ring off of Noriega’s finger, causing her to withdraw her hand. He grabbed Noriega’s neck in response and rammed her into the door.

Quintana also flipped over Noriega’s office desk, damaging her computer because he could not log in, the documents said.

Nearly a year later, Quintana invited himself over to Noriega’s home after the two went to a local football game. Court records show that Noriega reported he “drank an unknown quantity of beer” and began to ask her about her dating situation at the time. She didn’t want to talk about her personal life and proceeded to kick Quintana out of her house. When Quintana would not leave, Noriega threw out all of his belongings. He attempted to enter her home, but she blocked him. According to affidavits, Quintana grabbed Noriega by the upper arm and pushed her back, causing her to fall and hit her head against a sheetrock wall.

APD officials refused to comment on Wednesday because Quintana is no longer serving on the force.

Quintana faced public scrutiny after he fatally shot Nathaniel Sanders II in May 2009. He received a 15-day suspension for his failure to activate his dashboard camera at the time of the incident. The former officer was charged with driving while intoxicated in January 2010 after he crashed his car in a Leander neighborhood. APD Chief Art Acevedo indefinitely suspended Quintana following the charges, but Quintana appealed and was reinstated on Oct. 21. He was fired shortly afterward for violating company policy following Noriega’s assault allegations.

Mitchell said Quintana has denied any wrongdoing and expects to go to trial.