DENVER - The three Denver police officers accused of beating a driver during a traffic stop will not face any disciplinary action, the Denver Police Chief and the Denver Manager of Safety announced Friday.
Police Chief Robert White and the Manager of Safety Alex Martinez said there was insufficient evidence to sustain any allegations of inappropriate force, racial slurs or deceptive conduct by Officers Ricky Nixon, Randy Murr and Tiffany Middleton for the incident with Alexander Landau.
"There just isn't evidence there to find that there was that serious type of serious misconduct on any part of the officers," said public safety manager Alex Martinez.
That decision is consistent with the conclusion of the former police chief, the previous independent monitor, the Denver District Attorney and the United States Department of Justice when they decided not to file any criminal charges.
The police chief will reprimand the officers for failing to make complete reports but "after consideration of the number of witnesses, the consistencies and inconsistencies of their statements, the possible motives and biases of the witnesses, and all other circumstances, the weight of the evidence is not sufficient, by a preponderance, to sustain the allegations of misconduct made by Landau," the decision letter from the Manager of safety said.
Landau sued the city in 2011, saying Murr, Nixon and Middleton tried to cover up the January 2009 beating. The lawsuit also accused the officers of calling Landau, who is African-American, a racial epithet during a traffic stop.
"I think back -- I was called a n**ger, I was hit by a flashlight, I was hit with a radio, had a gun put to my head -- I just don't really know what more evidence could've been produced, " Landau had said.
As part of their investigation, police used actors to reenact witness statements.
Landau says he was asked to participate in the reenactment but declined.
"Would you ask any victim to relive a traumatic experience,” asked Landau. "It's like you're trying to say maybe he's not credible,” he said.
Police said Landau reached for Middleton's gun during the traffic stop.
"There is evidence that officers used commands, engaged in efforts to restrain Landau and used their fists to strike Landau before resorting to the use of the flashlight and subsequently a firearm. The preponderance of evidence does not show that the force which was used was 'inappropriate force' in violation of department policy," Martinez concluded.
"We're going to state the facts. Sometimes those facts aren't going to be popular," said Denver Police Chief John White.
Denver's Independent Monitor Nicholas E. Mitchell issued the following statement on Sunday: o
"Although I am troubled by several inconsistencies in officer statements, I agree that the evidence creates significant ambiguity about what occurred during this incident. There is insufficient proof to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the force used was appropriate or not.
"However, I believe that there are issues in this case that have yet to be addressed. Fundamental to Mr. Landau’s complaint is his allegation, made years ago, that an investigator in Internal Affairs sought to intimidate and dissuade him from pursuing his complaint. Mr. Landau alleged that Internal Affairs suggested that he was bringing false charges, summarily dismissed his allegations of racial slurs, accused him of playing the “race card,” and otherwise conveyed that the incident would not be fairly investigated. I previously recommended that the Manager take action to investigate and address this allegedly biased complaint intake interview. I was disappointed to hear the Manager, in his press conference today, indicate that today’s decision marks the end of the administrative investigations and employment actions related to Mr. Landau. I do not believe that Mr. Landau’s complaint will be fully addressed until the alleged bias in the Internal Affairs intake interview has been investigated and resolved."
Landau's federal lawsuit ended in 2011 with a $795,000 settlement.
"This decision will do nothing to restore the public's broken faith in Denver's ability to hold police accountable for egregious misconduct," said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein. "We had hoped that with a new mayor, a new police chief, and a new manager of safety that we would put an end to what so many have come to regard as business as usual. Two years ago the ACLU of Colorado asked the Department of Justice to investigate the Denver Police Department's pattern and practice of violating the civil rights of Denver residents. We renew that call today. The public will find it hard to believe that police did not engage in excessive force in light of Alex Landau's serious injuries and the $800,000 settlement that Denver has already paid in compensation."
While Landau feels he's been let down by the system, his fight isn't finished.
"We need to accelerate our work. We need to step up our work to the next level," said Landau.
Read the full case summary from the Manager of Safety: http://www.denvergov.org/Portals/744/documents/Case%20Narrative.pdf