Alex Landau was pulled over for making an illegal left turn and ended up beaten bloody

Lying in a jail cell, Landau was nearly overwhelmed by the smell of the blood-drenched hoodie he'd taken off and was using as a makeshift pillow.

None of it felt real yet. Not the trip in the ambulance, during which he'd gone into shock, shaking violently. Not the cop riding along in the ambulance, who allegedly called him a pussy for refusing to let the paramedics insert an IV into his arm until somebody got pictures of the damage. Not the scene at the hospital where, after a cop finally consented to take photos of his face, Landau let the doctors set his broken nose, see to the concussion he'd suffered and close his head wounds with 45 stitches.

He still hadn't had a chance to survey the damage for himself. Later, when he finally looked in a mirror, the sight would bring him to tears.

But for the moment, here he was, just a couple hours after the January 15, 2009, traffic stop, passing a sleepless night in the Denver jail. This wasn't anywhere the gregarious Landau expected to be. The adopted son of a social worker turned teacher and an environmental engineer, both white, he'd gone to schools for gifted children in the metro area and was now pursuing a degree in business management. When he wasn't busy scribbling lines of poetry and rap lyrics into one of his many notebooks, he was always the first of his friends to lend a hand when somebody needed help, volunteering to drive his classmates to and from the airport in his old, beat-up Lincoln.

But now that he was the one who needed help, who was going to come to his aid?

The next day, Patsy, Landau's mom, got a call from a sheriff's deputy while she was teaching her second-grade class. When she got to the jail and saw her son, "I was horrified," she remembers. Steve, Landau's dad, wasn't much better when he heard the news.

Steve's father and grandfather had both been Denver patrolmen. He'd grown up hearing stories of how his dad had saved lives, watched as he broke up a street fight using nothing other than his commanding presence. One evening in the tense late '60s, Steve's father took him aside. There was talk of a race riot breaking out that night, and the department was putting every cop on the street. Before he left, Steve's dad wanted to shake his son's hand and tell him to take care of his mother if anything were to happen.

Nothing happened that night, but the story was handed down in the Landau household. For a while, Alex had even wanted to be a policeman, and he'd acted like one the day his mom suffered a seizure while the two were home alone. The then-six-year-old Alex had the wherewithal to call 911 and direct the authorities to their mountain home in Conifer, even though he didn't know the exact address.

What had happened to their son at the hands of the cops didn't make sense. "I have to say, this incident strongly affects my impression of what the police were like in the past and what we see today," Steve Landau says. "I had two relatives who were Denver police officers, and I am disappointed that the officers involved couldn't have used the same sort of techniques they used to use to keep the situation under control."

When Alex was finally released from jail two days after the incident, Steve Landau took him directly to the DPD's Internal Affairs Bureau. But the sergeant who took down his story there seemed unmoved by the incident. According to the federal complaint, when Alex Landau told her about being called "nigger," she asked if he really wanted to play the race card.

But as it turned out, the cops apparently weren't above playing the race card themselves.

Alex Landau discovered this several days later when he saw Hunold. It was the first time the two had talked since the traffic stop, and Hunold was wracked with guilt. While Landau was in the gutter, the cops had taken Hunold to the nearby police station — where, Hunold told his friend, everything had gotten weird.

Instead of being escorted to a holding cell, Hunold had been taken into a back office where a bunch of officers were hanging out, acting casual. One guy was shopping for boats on Craigslist. Another cop unlocked Hunold's handcuffs and sat him down in front of a desk. Sitting across from him, a third officer reportedly said, "Your buddy is going to jail for a long time, and if you don't cooperate, you could be pinned with the same charges."

"I pretty much did everything they said," Hunold says now. "I was scared shitless."

At their prompting, Hunold wrote down exactly the statement the cops wanted. "They were leaning over my head, choosing the questions to ask, suggesting answers," he says. Yes, he conceded, maybe he had noticed Landau's arms tense up when the cops first grabbed him. Yes, maybe the officers were trying to calm the situation down, to prevent Landau from doing something.

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63 comments
Markdenny
Markdenny

I was in Mobile, Alabama and was horrified at the treatment I was caused by Black Officers not just Whites, but without detail I believe this gentleman is ( NOT ) speaking the truth in full measure here, there are too many things not addressed, Im so tired of the good people getting fooled by their emotions being played upon by bad police AND bad citizens, really there were wrongs on both sides in this issue, I would like to hear suggestions about how to handle an aggressive, citizen thats under the influence of drugs, also how to maybe not put ourselves in these situations so we are not subject to police who are livin on the edge...suggestions like these will help far better than blaming EVERYTHING on others...

Lizzyb
Lizzyb

If you want change you must get involved.

Injustice Everywhere is part of the National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project designed to analyze and share information about police ...

www.injusticeeverywhere.com/

The website has daily national reports of police misconduct, blogs, graphs and other good stuff

D.G.S.
D.G.S.

I am deeply moved to hear of Alex's courage in the face of abuse and injustice. He has my support and my prayers for his physical and psychological healing. The issue of police brutality is one that should concern all Colorado residents (and voters), and this article is journalism doing its job.

Marggie Cassey
Marggie Cassey

At no time do you suggest this guy could be guilty? I dont understand your quick to judge the officers but not judging the crimminal at the same time. Wouldnt it be fair to judge both with equal prejudice. The guy was doing drugs, The guy had dope on him, the guy had dope in his car, The guy was driving while under the influence,Why do you assume he treated the officers with respect? Why do you assume the officers just wanted to beat him up? From his own words from the onset and from the emergency personel account he didnt want to wipe off the blood from his face because it would make a bigger impact in a picture. Doesnt it sound like the wheels were turnnin in his head. IMO he was caught breaking the law, made him mad, didnt co-operate with the officers, became beligerent then violent and he had to be subdued, his struggle caused the cut on his face.I ask you, could this appear to be something horrible reminding us of the past, yes it could be, or could it be young ones have discovered they can play the system stirring up old wounds from days not completely gone but a lot better than it was, to make it look like they are being victimized just like grandpa ...could it be this?Are you being duped? Willfully ignorant? ..Do you care if you are or not or do you just want to complain?If you wanted justice you would wait for the outcome All are innocent until proven guility including the officers. I ask you, I ASK YOU have you EVER defended a police officer when it was he or she that was done wrong? Have you? If your answer is no then you probably have contempt towards all officers of the law and the law in general. This isnt some soap opera here this is real life, not all people are your enemies, I ask you next time someone threatens your life do you think you could depend upon this guy? or upon the officers that arrested him, remember the guy will probably be at a party and wont give you the time of day but I bet some officer shows up and puts him or herself in between you and the idiot thats trying to ruin your day and if he gives them trouble you will be delighted if they throw his butt on the ground so he cant hurt no one but himself...I can see you now with a real big smile on your face...ok what if this...say it wasnt a traffic stop say as he admitted was high and killed some one with his car would he still be less innocent than your making him out to be...come on...we got to wake up...

Army Ranger
Army Ranger like.author.displayName 1 Like

You are a faggot I'm in the US Army iv had to subdue terrorists In Iraq and afganistan we never had to beat in their faces. Police should be held to a higher standard And by the way pot is legal in colorado I seriously doubt he was High enough to lose control of his car and kill someone you ignorant moron.

ralph3153151
ralph3153151

@Army Ranger " You are a faggot" 
ROFLMFAO!!!!! Tell him Ranger!!!!! LOLOL
(best response I've read yet!! Hoo Rahhhh!

R89
R89

Exactly Army Ranger! Plus I have read the case brief and Alex was subject to excessive force! Officer Murr was involved with another beating that same year, quite obviously this is a pattern. Maybe you should get a clue Marggie and realize this isnt Mayberry!

andrea
andrea

hmmmm I wonder if the people of Iraq and Afghanistan see amerikans as terrorists in their country (viet nam, korea, iran, ...). Your arrogance is only exceeded by your ignorance. If you don't agree with amerika you are a terrorist. Ask the students at Kent University about domestic terrorists, national guard, army....

BTW...how high is high enough to not control your vehicle adequately...not only a ranger but an expert in everything. Were the amerikans high that 'accidently' killed their allies overseas....oooops collateral damage (army speak for KILLED THE WRONG PEOPLE), but hey they weren't "that high"

StevenT
StevenT

I was considering moving my family and business to Denver, thanks for helping decide against it.

StevenT
StevenT

I was considering my business and family to Denver, thanks for helping me decide not to.

roger simms
roger simms

I dont buy this story, that he approched the officers looking in the trunk of the care in a non threatening manner, I dont buy he was mister nice guy speaking in an non threatening tone of voice, why are cops all bad, criminals and those criminally minded know how to play the victim, I am astounded of the amount of people in this country dont realize they are being laughed at by guys like this who use the system to be accountable for their actions..it was HE who put himself in this positon NOT the police, but after a moments thought I realize, its not about justice to the officers or the person putting their life on the line, its about self not having to grow up, and instead of being out on the streets high from pot, carrying pot, trunk load of pot, just coming from a drug party, cruising streets high potentially killing the next little ten year old on a bycicle that happens cross this guys path, supporting this guy with tax dollars because he doesnt have a job, paying for his next visit to the emergency room because he doesnt have any insurance, taking care of his children because he wont work so now we are burdened with being assuragate parent to his child ..feeding his freedom of not having to be accountable...the first thing to do in this type of circumstance is ask..ask yourself why should i believe a guy who has pot in the trunk of his car, on his person, in his blood stream, that he responded in a mature orderly fashion to the police....Hell no he didnt he gave them attitude and challanged their authority to stop him from his admitted criminal spree..its not ok to break the law and them threaten the police and expect them to baby you...you scream and yell all you want but this guy has NO accountability and we have to pay for this slob to exist I have a right to make him accountable under my terms or he can leave the country...the only people I see complaining about this are people just like him...no accountability...and oh yes the liberal lawyers that know how to manipulate this kind of story to make a buck...attention to all criminals....Amercia aint taking it anymore..the party is over either become accountable for you actions or leave......

Army Ranger
Army Ranger

I'm sorry but do you actually know this guy? I think your just pulling shit out your ass and presenting it as some kinda fact. Police are trained to subdue people with out extreme physical force they also have several tools available such as mace and tasers so please explain what was necessary about beating his face in moron

MDWE420
MDWE420

U MAKE IT SOUND LIKE ALL COPS R GOOD IVE SEEN THINGS COPS HAVE DONE THAT WERE NOT RIGHT NOT EVERYBODY IS A CRIMINAL IT DOESNT MATTER IF U HAVE DONE SOMETHING WRONG THEY STILL SHOULDNT B BEATING ON HIM U NEED TO WAKE UP AND COME BACK TO REALITY

Rogersimms
Rogersimms

Is it possible, just possible he was the one who started the fight? and could it be possible the officers in defending themselves he ended up getting hurt? Is that possible? If it is why are you assuming he is totally innocent? Im not taking his side Im pointing out the bigger wrong. the wrong of saying he is innocent and not evan hearing the officers side...your just automatically assuming they GOT to be wrong...cause we all know how they are....I like your words " Not everybody is a criminal " Why are you not applying that to the police officers side also? isnt this unfair ...or no wait ...justice doesnt apply to all people....so lets give it to all in this situation...officers can be victims too and remember crimnals can and do cause some ugly, ugly things and when we joe public have to see the end result ( pictures) we say to ourselves this must be stopped....how? do we let the criminals do what they want? or do we tell the officers to not defend themselves or you and me...do we just let ourselves be beat upon by crimnals so we wont be looked upon as we are being prejudice because we fought back....cause thats where this is goingI aint buyin it man....its time we applied justice all, not just who we chose...

Army Ranger
Army Ranger

It does not matter if he did start the fight he was out numbered and out gunned beating a man on the ground is what pussy ass police should not be doing.

bluebird88
bluebird88

a few yrs ago I was pulled over in Aurora for changing lanes w/out signalling. The cop came up to my window and proceeded to scream at me (white woman, late 30s driving a minivan) for about 5 mins. If he thought I needed a ticket, that's fine. But dont scream at me in front of my kids. I mean, his face was beet red and spittle flying out of his mouth - he seemed nearly out of control. I was stunned, then scared and I just looked at him like a deer in the headlights. Finally, my eyes rested on his badge and I began to memorize the number. Immediately, he shut up, turned around and stalked back to his car.

EyemNotFree
EyemNotFree

They repeatedly tortured me as a child. I learned to remain motionless. The Reagan adminstration kidnapped and tortured me in 1982. They stuck a monitoring device in my back. I want it out. The terrorist government threatens me with death and physically assaults me. My hat is off to anyone who executes my senator congressman or governor

truthjusticeandtheamericanway
truthjusticeandtheamericanway

wrap yourself in aluminum foil, heavy duty is best. It will block the signals

EyemNotFree
EyemNotFree

Exterminate the christian government.My hat is off to anyone who executes my senator congressman or governor or you. Bring the war homeAmericans hate freedom

Fallen Angel
Fallen Angel

Hang the officers. There needs to be brutal punishment in society for murderers posing as police officers and servicemen. You pieces of shit, you will get what's coming to you - Karma is real and everyone knows who you are. Many meditate and pray that someone comes along and wipes your entire families and bloodlines out with meticulous accuracy, especially Mr. Nixon. Look at Egypt.. these same murderers and scumbag cops would be hiding like cowards if the riots were in America right now. Shits coming to a head here in America with all these crooked piece of shit cops killing people, and when it finally hits the fan we'll see who's "the fucking nigger" when theyre all hiding for their lives.

AB
AB

John, you were and still are a hero to me...I admire all that you do for people- thanks for all you do!

AB
AB

I was truly sickened when I read this story...and when I saw your face, I could not believe that human beings could do this to one another- it appears you were literally beaten to within an inch of your life- God works in mysterious ways- I am tired of hearing about these stories- over and over again- the cover ups- the abuse...time someone did the right thing- you have many supporters- thanks for being strong enough to do this...you will help many others in the process.

AB
AB

Alex, you are doing the right thing...enough is enough. John Holland represented me in a sickening case that I thought I would never win- you could not have a better team representing you- he is the best of the best- you will be in my prayers- may God bless you and your family and give you strength- right is right, period.

jmpkay
jmpkay

For those thugs, There will come a day.

calhounp
calhounp

I'd love to publish some of these comments in the print edition, in our Letters to the Editor column. If you'd like yours included, I need your full name and town (we don't publish e-mail addresses). Send it to patricia.calhoun@westword.com

DC
DC

This story is disgusting. Alex - thank you for standing up for what is right. Is Denver really that hard up for cops that they have to hire these thugs? And then keep them on the force even after they've proven what wrongs they are capable of? I hope they go to jail for a long, long time and receive the same treatment they've inflicted upon others.

WAYSAWITCH
WAYSAWITCH

ONE LAST POST TO SAY YOU ARE A HERO ALEX AND SO ARE YOUR PARENTS! GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU SAFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WAYSAWITCH
WAYSAWITCH

I'M SORRY FOR THE VICTIM OF THE CRIMMANALS THAT BEAT HIM AND NOW I'M OFFLINE BECAUSE I CAN'T COMMENT AS I AM CRYING AND CAN'T GO ON AT THIS TIME I AM SO UPSET AND OUTRAGED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WAYSAWITCH
WAYSAWITCH

I AM SO GLAD TO SEE SO MUCH OUTRAGE AND THATS NOT TO BE OVER AND FORGOTTEN IN A DAY OR TWO! WE SHOULD GET ON AND STAY ON THIS CRIME AND DO SOMETHING BECAUSE AMERICANS ARE PAYING TAXES TO GET THEIR PROTECTION NOT GET BEAT UP BY THE MONSTERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Waysawitch
Waysawitch

But thats what they do now, when you are out of your home you are free game to the nazi sickos we call our payed supposably protectors!!!! I have and won,t go out in their city any more than nessasary! we have been controled by fear for to long! if they don,t get you then they do by our kids being kids and open to being their victim and they have you too.. as united states citizens we are being hunted and marked! AND YES IT IS THAT BAD IN FACT IT IS A HIGH ALERT EMERGENCY TO ALL AMERICANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reformkycannabis
Reformkycannabis

Breaking the law, yes, so take him to jail, dont beat him to the edge of his life and act like it was OK. And to say he was "high" so how could he remember, just shows the level of true education the typical American citizen has about cannabis. Basically about half of the population, like you, have trusted the lies and misinformation about pot, so lets look at the truth. As soon as he got pulled over, he would have lost any "high" he had real quick, if he was. If that didnt do it, it would have been when he was hit in the face, that would wake up a drunk let alone take away a pot buzz. I believethat he is well aware of what happened and has every right to demand the firing of these cops and even more.

The main point in all of this, Prohibition doesnt work, had it been legal, just like alcohol, that young man wouldnt been able to get it and wouldnt have had it. But would there have been the same outcome? I believe so, becasue they still would have searched him due to the drug war and thinking everyone has drugs on them. Plus he would have still stood up for his rights wanting a warrant for them to look in the trunk. So the cops would have acted the same, stupidly and brutally, so how high he was or wasnt is not the issue here, its the fact that cops have lost sight of their duty, protecting and serving. However, due to the drug war they seek and destroy instead and like so many arrest over drugs the harm that comes from arrest, prison, fines, seizures and in this case life threatening beating, all of this is far worse than the drugs themselves. Its not harm prevention and thats the whole reason for the drug war, seems to me it has failed us all.

El-Guapo
El-Guapo

"I believethat he is well aware of what happened and has every right to demand the firing of these cops and even more."

Sure. Except for the gaping holes in his story and the fact that his sidekick's story didn't match his. Yeah, other than a few minor details...

TWAYSAWITCH
TWAYSAWITCH

Are you really thinking they will fire those animals! NO BECAUSE THEY ARE DOING ANYTHING THEY WANT AND BECAUSE THEY ARE COPS they will ignore it and blame their victim and they our nazi system to back them and laugh because thats how sick it has become! If we were able to get numbers you will see they are set on making us all felons so we can be controled by them and can't do a thing about it! Just know this is just the begining and I can't even begin to tell you how dissapointed and heartbroken I am to see how Americas have allowed it to go this far already!!!!!!!!!!SHAME ON US FOR letting this go on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Disappoint
Disappoint

Time to spread the word. I'm not going to watch the Denver Police turn into the LAPD. What a joke.

Miss Meliss
Miss Meliss

Shame on you Denver police. Shame. On. You.

El Guapo
El Guapo

Let's see Landau was:1. Driving while high2. Driving w/o a license3. Transporting dope in the trunk of the car

And he can't remember most of the arrest. Except for the parts that make the officers look bad.

Interesting.

Good luck with the Rap career Landau. You're case is going nowhere.

WAYSAWITCH
WAYSAWITCH

YOU ARE IGNORANT BECAUSE ITS NOT THE CRIME IT IS THE BEATING THAT IS THE POINT !!!! YOU ARE THE REASON WE ARE BEING BEAT BECAUSE HE ISN'T SAYING HE DIDN'T SCREW UP FOOL HE'S SAYING THE BEATING WAS NOT NESSASRY AND THAT MY FRIEND IS WHERE THEY ARE COMMITTING A CRIME ALSO BUT ARE THEY BEAT ALMOST TO DEATH! AND WHAT????????????

fivexfive
fivexfive

That's right, those three infractions should result in a beating. No wait, it was an accident.

El-Guapo
El-Guapo

Nope. But the fact he was breaking the law and was probably high does make me doubt him, you know, just a wee bit.

El-Guapo
El-Guapo

"can't imagine *any* side of this story that would justify the beating this man suffered. "

You lack imagination then. Try imagining subduing a violent criminal sometime.

Sabrina Stevens
Sabrina Stevens

My critical mind functions quite well, thank you. So does my heart, which is why I can't imagine *any* side of this story that would justify the beating this man suffered. This level of force is far beyond what could possibly have been necessary for that many armed officers to subdue a single unarmed person.

El-Guapo
El-Guapo

Sigh. Did you notice something about the article? It only showed his side of the story. Think about that for a while.

BTW. I have no problem with pot legalization. I just found Landau unbelievable. Read the article with a critical mind instead of with a rooters interest and you might learn something.

Sabrina Stevens
Sabrina Stevens

Do you seriously think these are circumstances under which THAT kind of force would be warranted?? Do you really think carrying pot and making an illegal turn should land someone in the hospital, with permanent physical and psychological scars?? There are no words for that kind of callousness. I sincerely hope you never come in physical contact with other living things. Your lack of compassion is STUNNING, and appalling.

Phathaway17
Phathaway17

No one said that he was driving high. Yes, he forgot his wallet. Sounds like he had a small amount of pot in the trunk--something the cops never charged him with. And it seems that he had remarkable recall for even small details of the arrest. His career is business. The lyrics are therapeutic. Assault/police brutality is very damaging-in fact life threatening. Not to mention the emotional damage. Nixon, Murr, & Middleton made themselves look bad. Which of these officers are you?

Phathaway17
Phathaway17

And you misspelled your.

El-Guapo
El-Guapo

NOPE. I wasn't arguing that he deserved a beat down. I was arguing that I don't believe his story.

Disappoint
Disappoint

Sounds like your only argument for this beating is that the boy was potentially high. (Unproven)

Your only issue with that is that it is illegal, not that it is immoral. And apparently people who smoke marijuana deserve to have the shit beat out of them? And you want these Officers PROTECTING you?

Did it ever occur to you that maybe you might be the next one to get beat down for no reason?

El-Guapo
El-Guapo

None, other than skeptical reader. Not that I expect you to believe that. You seem to think everyone who doesn't feel the way you do must have an ulterior motive.

Here's a thought experiment for you though - you say, " I know his character to be excellent & I know that he is intelligent, kind, & nonviolent". Did it ever occur to you that every criminal has someone saying the same thing for them. Kind of makes it a weak argument.

Phathaway17
Phathaway17

I know Alex personally. Therefore I know his character to be excellent & I know that he is intelligent, kind, & nonviolent.

El-Guapo
El-Guapo

"Clearly, you have some investment in this beyond the casual reader. It is time to take responsibility for your actions & correct your behavior/thinking. Another career besides law enforcement would be a good start".

Your assumptions are unwarranted. Just because I am skeptical of Landau's claim's I must be one of the arresting officers? Weak logic there.

As far as the smell of marijuana: "Landau had a feeling the telltale odor was in the air." Yeah. I bet.

Phathaway17
Phathaway17

No, I meant that he is majoring in business administration. Therefore, his career is business is correct.

How do you know his car reeked of marijuana unless you were there? Also, what do you mean, Landau isn't fooling me? Clearly, you have some investment in this beyond the casual reader. It is time to take responsibility for your actions & correct your behavior/thinking. Another career besides law enforcement would be a good start.

The young man's name is Alex.

El - Guapo
El - Guapo

"No one said that he was driving high." Please. His car reeked of marijuana and they found weed in the trunk and on his passenger, which the passenger admitted to. If you choose to delude yourself, that's fine. Landau isn't fooling me.

BTW, if you want to play the grammar police then check yourself - "His career is business."

I think you meant - "His career is *his* business." Note the difference? (I'm sure you'll take this in the same spirit in which you corrected me.)

 
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