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Alex Landau frustrated by cop reinstatement, latest delay in bloody beating investigation

Earlier this month, the Justice Department decided not to charge the officers who beat Alex Landau to a pulp with federal civil rights violations. This conclusion frustrated Landau, but he figured that at least he'd find out the results of a local investigation put on hold due to the feds' actions. But no: The inquiry into the assault, which took place way back in 2009, is in limbo yet again. And to add insult to (literal) injury, one of the cops who pummeled him has been reinstated. [jump]

"I'd really like to know why this can't be treated with more urgency," says Landau, "and why my investigation has been mishandled since the beginning."

As Joel Warner reported in detail for his 2011 feature article "Black and Blue," Landau was a nineteen-year-old Community College of Denver student when he was pulled over by police on January 15, 2009, allegedly for making an illegal left turn.

Marijuana was subsequently found on Landau's passenger, a fellow student named Addison Hunold, prompting the officers -- identified in the lawsuit as Ricky Nixon, Randy Murr and Tiffany Middleton -- to ask if they could search his trunk. Landau is said to have responded by stepping toward the officers and quizzing them about whether or not they had a warrant -- at which point they began punching him in the face. The attack caused Landau to fall, but the beating continued for several minutes, with one officer yelling, "He's going for the gun." (Landau was unarmed.) Once they finally stopped the assault, one officer reportedly put the following question to him: "Where's that warrant now, you fucking nigger?"

A lawsuit over the incident was filed in January 2011 (see it below), and Landau eventually received a $795,000 settlement from the City of Denver for the damage done to him. But officers Nixon, Murr and Middleton still have not been punished for their actions in the incident. Nixon was canned in connection with his role in an alleged assault on four women at the Denver Diner, also in 2009. However, he was later reinstated and remains on the Denver police force, as does Middleton.

And Murr? He was eventually fired for taking part in another high-profile excessive-force case involving Michael DeHerrera -- but last week, the Civil Service Commission recommended that Murr be reinstated, complete with back pay.

Murr wasn't the person who can be seen on video beating Herrera while the latter spoke on a cell phone; that was Devin Sparks, whose sacking was upheld by the commission. But Landau says Murr wasn't nearly as hands-off in his incident. "He hit me in the face with a flashlight," he says.

As such, Landau will be at the center of a Friday, March 1, event protesting Murr's reinstatement; get full details below. In the meantime, he has been trying to find out the status of the investigation into the attack on him -- and he hasn't liked the answers.

Continue for more about the Alex Landau investigation and the Michael DeHerrera event, including photos. Warning: They're graphic.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts