Alex Landau beating: Attorney says decision not to charge officers ignores key evidence
Last week, Denver Manager of Safety Alex Martinez announced that there would be no charges against the three Denver police officers who nearly beat college student Alex Landau to death in 2009. Afterward, Independent Monitor Nicholas Mitchell said Landau's claim that an Internal Affairs officer tried to dissuade him from filing a complaint still needs to be investigated. An attorney agrees -- and adds that conflicting stories about a bloody handprint on a gun undermine Martinez's conclusion.
Photos, documents below.
As we've reported, Landau and passenger Addison Hunold were pulled over in January 2009, allegedly over an illegal left turn.
Officers Ricky Nixon, Randy Murr and Tiffany Middleton subsequently found marijuana and asked if they could search the vehicle's trunk. Landau responded by asking if they had a warrant -- after which the situation spun out of control. Landau was brutally beaten, supposedly because he'd gone for an Middleton's gun. Afterward, he remembers one officer asking, "Where's that warrant now, you fucking nigger?"
Landau, assisted by lawyer John Holland, later filed a lawsuit and received a $795,000 settlement from the City of Denver. But the officers weren't punished for their actions after either a federal civil-rights inquiry or investigations by assorted Denver entities. On Friday, Martinez's office released a statement that reads in part, "The Manager of Safety determines there is insufficient evidence to sustain any allegations of inappropriate force, racial slurs or deceptive conduct by Officers Ricky Nixon, Randy Murr and Tiffany Middleton for the incident with Mr. Alexander Landau. Other than reprimands by the Chief of Police for failure to make complete reports, no disciplinary action is taken against any of the involved officers."
A photo of Landau after the 2009 incident.
Beyond the beating itself, however, the lawsuit also features Landau's account of his reception when he complained to the Internal Affairs Bureau about what had happened to him. Here's his account from the original January 2011 lawsuit, on view below:
Sergeant Virginia Quinones, the IAB [Internal Affairs Bureau] intake worker taking Plaintiff's initial complaint of racism and brutality, actually discouraged Plaintiff from making his complaint several times. This intake worker accused Plaintiff of lying, telling him that he should "grow up," take responsibility for his actions, and that his intimidated friend was on "our side, not your side."These issues are absent from various documents released in support of the Manager of Safety's decision against prosecuting the officers, and that troubled Independent Monitor Mitchell. In a statement, he concurred with the choice not to pursue charges, but added, "I previously recommended that the Manager take action to investigate and address this allegedly biased complaint intake interview. I was disappointed to hear the Manager, in his press conference today, indicate that today's decision marks the end of the administrative investigations and employment actions related to Mr. Landau. I do not believe that Mr. Landau's complaint will be fully addressed until the alleged bias in the Internal Affairs intake interview has been investigated and resolved."
IAB consciously decided not to even speak to Addison Hunold about what he witnessed before making their determination.
IAB suggested to the badly injured Plaintiff during his initial complaint that he was bringing false charges, making it clear that the matter would not be neutrally investigated, but rather had been pre-decided.
After Plaintiff complained about his being called a "nigger" by one of the male police officers, the IAB interviewer outrageously accused him of "playing the race card" when Plaintiff suggested that there was a racial motivation behind his beating.
Attorney Holland agrees. "We told them we wanted the investigation reopened specifically about the race charge," he says. "How could you blow off a kid coming in by telling him he played the race card? But they didn't investigate it, they didn't talk about it, they didn't mention it. That's a breech of the agreement."
Equally suspect in Holland's view is the lack of attention paid to conflicting reports about the aforementioned bloody handprint. Two officers either specifically mentioned it or alluded to it, while another denied its existence -- and rejected suggestions that she'd wiped it off.
Continue for more about the Alex Landau case and the bloody handprint.