Denver police officers won’t be charged in 2009 Landau beating case

From the Denver Post:

The Justice Department on Friday informed a man who was beaten by three Denver police officers in 2009 that it will not charge any of them with civil-rights violations stemming from the case.

Alexander Landau, 23, said representatives from the department and the FBI called him at about 6:30 p.m. to inform him of the decision.

“They said they didn’t feel like they had enough evidence to bring federal charges against any of the officers who were initially involved,” Landau said.

The agents did not expound on the decision, he said.

“The gentleman was saying they just didn’t feel like they had sufficient evidence,” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

The decision brought vindication to the officers and disillusionment to Landau, whose federal lawsuit against the city ended in 2011 with a $795,000 settlement, one of the largest payouts in city history to resolve a police-brutality case.

He said Cpl. Randy Murr and Officers Ricky Nixon and Tiffany Middleton tried to cover up the Jan. 19, 2009, beating that left him scarred and suffering “persisting neurological damage.” A photograph of Landau’s bloody face sparked outrage and community protests.

The lawsuit alleged that the officers hit Landau with their fists, flashlights and a radio, and called him a racial epithet during the incident, which started with a traffic stop.

Police said Landau reached for Middleton’s gun during the stop.

In June, the Justice Department informed the Police Department of its investigation. The Police Department’s internal-affairs bureau has completed its investigation into Landau’s allegations, but leaders delayed a discipline decision in light of the federal probe.

Given the federal government’s decision, Landau said he doubts the city will pursue harsh punishment.

Police Chief Robert White, through a spokesman, referred questions to Manager of Public Safety Alex Martinez.

Martinez’s spokeswoman, Daelene Mix, said earlier Friday that the office had not received official notice of the decision and declined to comment.

The officers involved are now vindicated, said Nick Rogers, president of the Denver Police Protective Association.
“It’s pretty simple: The officers did nothing wrong,” he said.

In a separate case, Murr was fired for lying on a police report about an April 2009 incident in Lower Downtown that was caught on videotape, showing officers beating Michael DeHerrera. Nixon was fired in 2011 for lying in a police report about a violent 2009 incident caught on video outside the Denver Diner. He has since been reinstated.

A Police Department roster shows that Middleton also remains on the job.

“Obviously, they’re relieved,” said Sean Olson, who represented Murr and Nixon in the Landau case. “They’ve been living under this cloud of suspicion since the investigation started. … We are happy to know the DOJ now sees what the evidence shows in this case, that no Denver police officers violated Mr. Landau’s rights.”

Landau said he’s not sure what course of action, if any, he might take next.

“I feel like this is unjust. They beat me half to death and then just joked about it,” he said. “I don’t know if there is anything else I can do from here.”

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