Crime & Courts

Lawyer: Quintero had hands up, back to Wichita officers when fatally shot

John Paul Quintero was shot and killed by a Wichita police officer on Jan. 3, 2015.
John Paul Quintero was shot and killed by a Wichita police officer on Jan. 3, 2015. File photo

Witnesses saw John Paul Quintero with his hands up and his back to two Wichita police officers when one fatally wounded him in the buttock with a military-style rifle in January, an attorney says.

The 23-year-old “wasn’t doing anything threatening to the officers, and that’s key,” said Dallas-based attorney Thomas Bowers. He is representing Quintero’s 45-year-old father, Santiago Quintero, an eyewitness who was standing near his son and the officers. “He’s got his hands up, and he’s compliant,” Bowers said.

The lawyer’s description differs from a police account the day after the shooting. There is disagreement over whether Quintero was complying or threatening the officers.

Right before an officer used a stun gun on the younger Quintero, he told them he was complying and not to discharge the Taser or he would sue, Bowers said. “Basically, right after the Tasing, he got shot. He got Tased and shot pretty much at the same time.”

“It’s an execution,” Bowers said.

Police have said that Quintero threatened the officers and disobeyed commands before the shooting.

On Friday, police spokesman Lt. James Espinoza said the department can’t respond to Bowers’ comments because the case has been presented to the District Attorney’s Office for review. Prosecutors will consider whether the shooting was justified.

The shooting occurred the evening of Jan. 3 outside a home on Oliver just north of Central. Police received 911 calls from Quintero’s relatives saying he was armed with a knife, under the influence of alcohol, “not all there right now” and threatening himself or others, according to audio or transcripts of calls related to the shooting.

One officer fired two rounds from a .223-caliber rifle, according to records the city legal department has provided to The Eagle. In September 2011, the newspaper reported that the department was assigning “new AR-15 semi-automatic rifles to 36 hand-picked patrol officers.”

At a briefing for media the day after the shooting, Interim Police Chief Nelson Mosley said one officer used a Taser on Quintero after he didn’t comply with commands to put his hands on an SUV, that the Taser had no effect, and that Quintero stepped toward the officer deploying the Taser. A second officer saw Quintero reach toward his waistband, and she fired two shots from her patrol rifle, hitting Quintero twice in the middle of his body, Mosley said.

A motorist who drove by before the shooting said Quintero had his hands up while the officer had her rifle aimed at him. At a vigil after the shooting, Santiago Quintero said his son was unarmed when he was shot and “never stood a chance” against the officers.

Referring to Wichita police, Bowers said Thursday: “They need to apologize, stop trying to escape liability, admit what they did and do the right thing.” Bowers said he expects to file a lawsuit over the shooting against the city soon.

The elder Quintero “was right there” when his son was shot, Bowers said. “That’s why his father is so broken up about this,” Bowers said.

EMS responded to the shooting and took Quintero to a hospital, where he was admitted about 37 minutes after the shooting, says an autopsy report filed last month. Quintero suffered two gunshot wounds, one to his “upper medial left buttock” and the other in his “lateral left buttock,” the report says. He suffered extensive internal injuries, underwent surgery and went into cardiopulmonary arrest and couldn’t be revived, the autopsy report says. He was pronounced dead a little over six hours after the shooting.

Quintero was wearing several layers of clothing, including a sweatshirt, long underwear shirt, T-shirt and belt “held together by a single taser probe,” the autopsy report said. Another Taser probe was attached to the lower portion of a blood-soaked shirt.

Photographs show that Quintero had Taser marks, Bowers said.

The autopsy report also listed “blunt force” injuries on his head, neck, back and extremities. The report didn’t say how the injuries occurred.

He tested positive for alcohol, methamphetamine and marijuana, the report said.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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