From the Denver Post:
Denver Manager of Safety Alex Martinez on Tuesday criticized an internal affairs investigator who first interviewed Alexander Landau about his 2009 beating by three officers but said he won’t launch an investigation into claims that she tried to intimidate him and dissuade him from filing a complaint.
Martinez announced last week that there was not enough evidence to support Landau’s claims of misconduct by Cpl. Randy Murr and Officers Ricky Nixon and Tiffany Middleton. He said they would not face discipline for the beating, which stemmed from a traffic stop. Landau said the officers tried to cover up the Jan. 19, 2009 beating and called him a racial epithet.
He took his complaint to then-internal affairs Sgt. Virginia Quinones, who said within the first minutes of their conversation that he would be charged with a crime if his report was false.
“You know, right off the bat, if it turns out that there’s any mistruths, so to say, any lies, so to say, then you — it could turn around and you could be charged. …” Quinones said, according to a transcript of the intake interview.
When Landau suggested that the officers “were intimidated because I’m black or something,” Quinones told him, “Sometimes, it’s not a good thing to play the race card.”
At one point, she told him, “it’s important for us to stand up and admit and be a man…”
Landau said Tuesday he felt the interview was “an uphill battle” from the start.
“We agree it was a poor interview that would be addressed by training, but the interviewer was transferred from Internal Affairs shortly after the interview,” Martinez wrote in an e-mailed statement.
He said Quinones was never investigated or disciplined because of the interview. She now works in the ID bureau, but her transfer was unrelated.
“More importantly, Internal Affairs has been completely restructured with well-trained investigators; that type of interview is not tolerated,” Martinez wrote.
According to the U.S. Justice Department’s best practices on internal affairs interviews, “no threats or warnings of prosecution or potential prosecution for filing a false complaint should be made orally or in writing” to someone who files a complaint.
Independent Monitor Nicholas Mitchell said Landau’s complaint will not be settled until Landau’s claims that Quinones was biased are resolved.
Landau and his attorneys also said the decision not to discipline the officers ignored key evidence, including conflicting stories about a bloody handprint on Middleton’s gun. Officers had said the print got there when Landau reached for the weapon and that it was wiped away, but Middleton said she did not see blood and did not clean the gun.
Martinez has said his decision came after multiple reviews. The U.S. Justice Department also declined to prosecute the officers for lack of evidence.