Alexander Landau on $795,000 police-brutality settlement: "I can move forward"

On January 15, 2009, Alexander Landau was a nineteen-year-old Community College of Denver student who was pulled over for an illegal left turn and beaten bloody by three Denver cops. Now, thanks to a $795,000 settlement announced Monday, he's received one of the largest-ever payouts for police brutality in the city's history.

So what does he think about it? "I feel like I can move forward," he says.

Landau, whose father and grandfather were Denver patrolmen, comes across as a thoughtful, even-keeled 22-year-old. When he first described the 2009 incident to Westword -- the beating with flashlights and police radios, the racial slurs he was allegedly called, the fact that the officers involved appeared to change their story in the days that followed -- there was no fury in his voice, just confusion and hurt. And now that the case is drawing to a close -- an internal investigation into the incident is nearing completion and may result in additional disciplinary action for the officers involved -- there's no victorious jubilation. Just relief.

"I feel like it's a real eye-opener for other officers who may engage in this behavior," he says. "It seems like the city isn't going to stand for it anymore, which is good."

The public outcry over what allegedly happened to him has also helped, he adds. "It felt good that everyone else was as outraged as me and my family were at the time it happen. It was really powerful."

As for the historic settlement he and his legal team received, he says, "I want to thank the city council and the city attorneys. They didn't show any hesitation. They were really cooperative, and didn't put up a fight at all. They could see there was wrongdoing." The fact that two of the three officers involved -- Ricky Nixon and Corporal Randy Murr -- have since been terminated for other incidents of alleged police brutality probably helped.

So what is he going to do with the money? "The first thing on my mind is to establish myself," he says. "Get my feet on the ground and figure out what I want to do with myself. It's been three long years." That will include traveling this summer to clear his head, as well as working on his poetry, his passion. And just like what happened to him that January night in 2009 has come up in many of his rhymes, he'll likely pen verses about this new, more promising development, too. "It's going to be a big part of whatever I write. But it's a whole new chapter now."

More from our News archive: "Alex Landau rhymes about being beaten up by Denver Police (VIDEO)."

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner