Ricky Nixon: Inside Alex Landau-Denver Diner cop's civil rights lawsuit against city

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Denver District Court Judge Elizabeth Starrs' termination ruling related to Nixon and Devine, shared here, makes no mention of the Landau matter. But it plays a big role in Nixon's lawsuit, filed in late August.

As we've reported, 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 -- Nixon, Randy Murr and Tiffany Middleton -- to ask if they could search his trunk. According to Landau's own lawsuit, which resulted in a $795,000 settlement, he 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 he maintains that 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?"

None of this material is in Nixon's suit. Instead, his document states that Landau, not Hunold, "was found to be in possession of over 106 grams of marijuana, then a controlled substance," adding, "Denver, in spite of the evidence and in response to a torrent of publicity, wrongfully supported the claims of Alex Landau."

Later, the suit stresses that multiple individuals and agencies, including then-Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman, the DPD Internal Affairs Bureau and the U.S. Department of Justice, either determined that the evidence "did not support a conclusion that Officer Nixon and his colleagues engaged in any misconduct" in the incident, or there was "insufficient evidence to file criminal accusations."

In the beginning, the Denver Diner case investigation went pretty much the same way -- but then, things changed.

Continue for more about Officer Ricky Nixon's lawsuit, including photos, video and documents.
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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