Alex Landau and police brutality: Ricky Nixon, one of cops involved, tied to '06 shooting death

Last week, Westword detailed how nineteen-year-old college student Alex Landau was beaten bloody by three Denver police officers -- Randy Murr, Tiffany Middleton and Ricky Nixon -- after being pulled over for an illegal left turn in January 2009.

As first reported by West Denver Copwatch, it turns out one of those officers -- Nixon -- was involved in a fatal shooting in 2006.

The victim, according to a Manager of Safety report about the incident, was 23-year-old Jimmy Orozco, who was caught by Nixon and his partner allegedly trying to break into a car at the Metro Urban apartments near Coors Field. When the officers shined their flashlights on Orozco and an alleged accomplice, Orozco reportedly started the car and drove toward the officers. Nixon fired, breaking the driver's-side window and hitting Orozco in the chest. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

According to a Rocking Mountain News article, Orozco had a lengthy rap sheet. The story also noted that Nixon was placed on administrative leave, as per policy, while investigators determined whether the shooting was warranted. According to the article, "It isn't against policy to fire at a moving vehicle, which can be considered a deadly weapon, though officers are advised of the dangers. The policy tells officers that it's difficult to hit a moving vehicle and that hitting the driver could make the situation worse."

In any case, the Manager of Safety determined that Nixon's use of force was warranted, a conclusion supported by the District Attorney's Office and the Office of the Independent Monitor. According to the Manager of Safety's report, Orozco "had chosen to use his vehicle as a deadly weapon," forcing Nixon to fire at the car to protect himself and his partner. While his bullet's entry through the driver's-side window seems to conflict with reports that the car was coming directly at the officers, according to the Manager of Safety's report, "Officer Nixon has no possible way of knowing that Orozco would turn the vehicle slightly to the right before reaching the officers," and that investigators looking into the shooting had determined that "the officer could have had a point of aim on the windshield of the vehicle and strike (sic) the side-window."

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