On the night of January 15, 2009, nineteen-year-old Community College of Denver student Alexander Landau was stopped by Denver police for allegedly making an illegal left turn. But according to a federal complaint filed yesterday, within minutes of the stop Landau was being beaten by three Denver cops, two of whom were wielding a radio and a flashlight as bludgeons. When it was all over, he was taken to Denver Health to be treated for a broken nose, lacerations and closed head injuries — but not before he demanded somebody take photos of him.
The lengthy and detailed complaint is the latest in a string of high-profile cases of alleged police brutality incidents that have captured local headlines and led to the resignation of Denver Manager of Safety Ron Perea. The issue was even discussed during the swearing-in ceremony of interim mayor Bill Vidal earlier today.
Landau’s story may add fuel to the fire — especially since one of the officers named in his complaint, Randy Murr, also played a role in the controversial police beating of Michael deHerrera. The complaint filed on Landau’s behalf notes that in the process of the traffic stop, police found marijuana on Landau’s passenger, a fellow student named Addison Hunold, and proceeded to search Landau’s car. Apparently the situation spun out of control when the cops asked Landau if they could search his trunk and Landau stepped towards them, asking if they had a warrant. Allegedly the three officers then on the scene – Murr, Ricky Nixon and Tiffany Middleton — then proceeded to punch him in the face and then, once he fell over, beat him for several minutes, with one officer yelling, “He’s going for the gun.” According to the complaint, when it was all over, Landau heard one officer say to him, “Where’s that warrant now, you fucking nigger?” Things would only get worse for Landau, who spent several days in jail after being treated at the hospital. In the meantime, according to the complaint, the officers involved in the incident “conspired and/or acted in concert to have [Landau] falsely charged and prosecuted for criminal attempt to disarm a police officer.” That included attempts to “intimidate and coerce Mr. Hunold into initially giving inaccurate, distorted and incomplete statements” when he was brought to the police station after the incident, with one officer allegedly telling Hunold, “That nigger’s not your friend.”