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Ricky Nixon, Denver cop involved in several brutality cases, is reinstated

Three years ago this past Sunday, Denver police officers pulled over Alex Landau, then nineteen, for allegedly making an illegal left turn onto Emerson Street — and then, wielding flashlights and radios as weapons, they beat him bloody ("Black and Blue," January 20, 2011). Although Landau received one of the city's largest police-brutality settlements — $795,000 — this past May, his story remains a chilling example of racial profiling. And now that story is starting a new chapter, since Officer Ricky Nixon, who was involved in the incident and later fired from the Denver Police Department in connection with a fracas at the Denver Diner, was just ordered reinstated to the force by three hearing officers with the Denver Civil Service Commission.

Then-Manager of Safety Charles Garcia had sacked Nixon and fellow officer Kevin Devine in April over the Denver Diner incident; a HALO security camera had captured the scene on July 12, 2009, when Nixon and Devine appeared to beat several women with billy clubs and Mace one of them in the eyes even though she'd already been subdued by another cop. Three years before that, Nixon had been involved in another violent incident — one that left 23-year-old Jimmy Orozco dead. According to a Manager of Safety report, Nixon and his partner had caught Orozco and an accomplice breaking into a car at the Metro Urban apartments near Coors Field. When the officers shined their flashlights on Orozco and his alleged accomplice, Orozco reportedly started the car and drove toward the officers. Nixon fired, breaking the driver's-side window and hitting Orozco, who was pronounced dead on the scene. Nixon was cleared of any wrongdoing in that shooting — and he was never disciplined in connection with the Landau case.

On the night of January 15, 2009, Nixon was driving the police car that stopped Landau, a Community College of Denver student who is African-American but had been adopted by a white couple with police officers in their family. The fight allegedly started when Landau asked Nixon if he had a warrant to search his trunk and Nixon responded by punching him in the face; two other officers who'd pulled up to the scene reportedly joined in. Landau was eventually treated for a broken nose, lacerations and closed-head injuries — but not before he demanded that someone take photos of his injuries. Those pictures helped convince the city to settle the federal lawsuit that Landau's attorney had filed.

Last spring, Garcia had also fired both Randy Murr, one of the officers involved in the Landau incident, and Devin Sparks in connection with the videotaped beating of Michael DeHerrera in LoDo in 2009; this past fall, hearing officers recommended that these officers, too, be reinstated.

"The Manager of Safety's office is committed to fair and impartial decision-making based on the facts and circumstances of each individual case," Alex Martinez, the city's new Manager of Safety, said in a statement after the hearing officers' recommendation that Nixon and Devine be reinstated came down on January 13. "While I respect the authority of the Civil Service Commission hearing officers, as with every case where the disciplinary decision is overturned, I will review the decision and consult with the city attorney's office to decide if it is appropriate to pursue an appeal."

Even before he heard about the recommendation that Nixon be reinstated, Landau had teamed up with the Colorado Progressive Coalition to relaunch the CPC's Racial Justice Hotline, which was originally started in 2002; now two dozen volunteers, including Landau, will answer the calls made to 866-329-0908. And that's not the CPC's only push: At a "know your rights" street-theater performance before the Martin Luther King Jr. Marade on Monday, the group called for the city to discipline Nixon, Murr and Officer Tiffany Middleton for their role in the Landau beating, and protested the reinstatement of the officers involved in both the Denver Diner and DeHerrera incidents.

"Coming to the reality that that actually happened to me took a long time, and from that I just want other people to know that you can't be shut down," Landau, who addressed the crowd, says in a video on YouTube. "Don't let anybody shut you down." After the rally, the group joined the Marade, which passed by the corner where Landau was beaten.

The CPC will hold a second rally on Friday, January 20.

"You get to a point where you're not surprised, but the average person would be shocked to hear that somebody was stopped, pulled out of their car and threatened with an attack dog for no reason," Mu Son Chi, program director for the CPC, says. "People have shown me video of officers grabbing cameras out of their hand. The calls we get are insane."

In recent weeks, the coalition has met with new police chief Robert White to discuss the issue of excessive force, and to urge that all brutality investigations take no more than ninety days and that officers at fault be fired.

"They know our feelings," Chi says. "These are cases that absolutely must be avoided in the future. If officers were disciplined appropriately, this would not happen."

For updates on this story, go to the Latest Word blog at westword.com.

 
My Voice Nation Help
9 comments
Steven Bradley
Steven Bradley like.author.displayName 1 Like

You want to know why guys become cops? Ask their wives. Most of the time they're control freaks, and end up as brutes to their families. They're gunslingers. They like to intimidate people, and feel justified in exercising their authority. What's worse, the city fathers recognize them as a necessary evil, and only mildly discourage their brutish behavior. Get over it, because it isn't going away. Stay in your home and out of bars, obey the traffic laws, and you probably won't ever have a run in with one of them.

Dcmosthated
Dcmosthated like.author.displayName 1 Like

Hey this is black jack. RICK NIXON IS MY UNCLE, AND IM BLACK AND I DO NOT WANT A DUM ASS COP ON THE STREET THAT HAS A GUN AND A BADGE TO ABUSE . I am ashamed to say i am related to such a ass hole like that. One or two bad cops spoils the rest. Im out.

Erikboyer
Erikboyer like.author.displayName 1 Like

You gotta be kidding me??? I heard he appealed the firing but never in my wildest dreams imagined anyone stupid enough to put him back on the payroll. On the bright side, we have another white trash racist piece of shit with a badge and a gun wandering the streets. Splendid.

Sexy-shorty30
Sexy-shorty30

That's horrible. All this racism. He shouldn't got his job back.

rick ginn
rick ginn like.author.displayName 1 Like

when you fight you get arrested no matter what why do police get to use aggression if they show up at my house and things are ruffled someone goes to jail a person was ruffled and no-one is in jail laws apply to all accept for the BOYS in blue

Cruzs
Cruzs like.author.displayName 1 Like

Then people wonder why many hate calling 911 sometimes to resolve issues, mostly if is this pair of cowards are the one who are going to show up in their coward cruiser! Give me 5 minutes without hiding behind a batch or a gun Nixon or Devine there's my e-mail address, I dare you! Both of you should be clowns in a circus!

Guest
Guest like.author.displayName 1 Like

Hope Nixon and his buddy Randy Murr are found shot dead in a fucking alley. Scum.

Guest
Guest

I bet every time Nixon or Devine are with a woman, they have to beat her to get it hard. Fucking pathetic cowards.

stevecrowell
stevecrowell

I wonder if any of the subjects' injuries were caused by waffling him on the cruiser partition.

 
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