By Qusair Mohamedbhai posted in Civil Rights on Saturday, April 6, 2013
On February 9, 2013, we predicted that the Denver Police Department (“DPD”) would proclaim that it was business as usual when two officers brutally beat Alexander Landau. Our prediction was correct! The failure of the Department of Justice to charge Officers Ricky Nixon and Randy Murr with civil rights violations gave the DPD the necessary political cover to exonerate the two officers that both have track records of dishonesty and violence.
On Friday, April 5, 2013 at 3:00 p.m., during the Colorado Rockies home opener that was consuming the media’s attention that day; the DPD announced that it did not find one shred of excessive force when Officers Nixon and Murr brutally beat Alexander Landau. Officer Tiffany Middleton was also involved in the Landau incident, but the vast majority of the force used against Landau came from Nixon and Murr.
Denver’s public relations machine was working overtime as a Denver Post editorial appeared this morning glowingly supporting the decision, a press release was issued, and Denver’s Safety Manager had an “interview” up on YouTube explaining his decision.
Denver’s Independent Monitor Nicholas Mitchell immediately criticized the decision, stating that the evidence in the Landau incident created “significant ambiguity about what occurred.” Mitchell went on to state that he was troubled by the lack of investigation into Landau’s report that Denver Police Department’s Internal Affairs bureau had “sought to intimidate and dissuade (Landau) from pursuing his complaint.”
In siding with law enforcement yet again, Denver went out of its way to point out the inconsistencies in the versions of the Landau incident as described by Landau himself and Addison Hunold, his friend and passenger in the car that evening.
Not surprisingly, in its recent publications Denver fails to address a crucial piece of evidence that would have supported Nixon and Murr’s decision to beat Landau. The lack of a bloody hand print demonstrates that the beating was indeed senseless.
Critically, in the aftermath of the Landau incident, Nixon specifically testified that Landau’s bloody hand print was all over Middleton’s firearm (attached below is the relevant deposition excerpt):
Nixon stated that he beat Landau almost to death because he observed him grabbing Middleton’s firearm. Without a doubt, attempting to disarm a police officer is a serious crime that would generally justify officers using high levels of force against an individual.
However, in direct contradiction to Nixon, Middleton specifically denied that there was ever any blood found on her firearm after the Landau incident (attached below is the relevant deposition except):
Either Nixon was dishonest in his account of the Landau incident, or Middleton intentionally destroyed key evidence supporting the criminal charges that were brought against Landau. All criminal charges against Landau were eventually dismissed.
In any event, without any evidence supporting the existence of the bloody hand print on Middleton’s firearm as allegedly observed by Nixon, there is no justification for the repeated head beating that Landau endured. Denver simply ignored the objective physical evidence found after the Landau incident and instead went out of its way to again justify police brutality and favor police accounts over those of the community.
It is worthy of mention that Nixon was terminated for dishonesty (he was later reinstated) as a result of his conduct in front of the Denver Diner on July 12, 2009 (we represent the four women suing Officer Nixon, Officer Kevin Devine, and Denver). In yet another case, Officer Murr was terminated for his beating of Michael DeHerrerra (he was later reinstated).
It appears that no matter how many times Nixon and Murr engage in dishonesty and excessive force, the DPD will always give them the benefit of the doubt. There is very good reason why the federal judge in the Denver Diner case found that the Denver Police Department has a cultural tolerance of excessive force.