Denver police chief criticized for delaying decision on cop discipline
The Colorado Progressive Coalition is challenging Denver Police Chief Robert White's decision to delay recommending discipline for cops accused of beating a man bloody in a case that the City settled for $795,000.
White wants to see a reenactment of the incident, which took place Jan. 19, 2009 when Alexander Landau was stopped for a traffic violation. White said he has reviewed the report on an internal investigation of Landau's arrest and beating but wants more clarity.
"It is important to me that I make an intelligent decision based on all the facts in front of me. I decided to get a reenactment to get a better understanding of where people were positioned, why they made their decisions. It is just a matter of getting the officers, getting the cars in their positions to find out what people did and why they did it," White said.
Landau sued the city in federal court, saying three police officers tried to cover up a beating that left him scarred and suffering persistent neurological damage. The officers hit Landau with their fists, flashlights and a radio, according to the suit.
Police say Landau reached for one of their guns during a stop for allegedly making an illegal left turn. One of the officers, Ricky Nixon, told an investing detective that he saw the bloody imprint of a hand on Officer Tiffany Middleton's gun after the arrest, according to Landau's suit.
Middleton cleaned the blood off her weapon, Nixon told the detective, according to Landau's suit. The suit goes on to say that Middleton never claimed that Landau touched her gun and never reported wiping the blood evidence off.
The Coalition is calling on Mayor Michael Hancock to order White to make the recommendation without delay, said Coalition spokesman Joe Boven.
"After almost 40 months of waiting and a commitment from White to have his recommendation prepared by the end of April, Landau was informed that the chief of police is not ready to make a recommendation on officer discipline in his case," a Coalition release said. "The decision by White contradicts both his public and private assurances that the recommendation for officer discipline would be given to the manager of safety within two weeks of receiving the investigation."
Landau has refused to participate in the reenactment, White said.
"I find this to be not only extremely insulting to myself as a victim, but a dangerous step for our community. This attempt to embarrass and humiliate me, slander my credibility, and force me to relive traumatic events I feel demonstrates the need for a DOJ investigation on the way police are disciplined in Denver," Landau said in a release.
Two of the officers at the center of the dispute, Nixon and Randy Murr,have been fired for other incidents. Legal wrangling over those cases continues.
Nixon and Kevin Divine were fired after a rough arrest outside The Denver Diner in 2009. Denver's Civil Service Commission has temporarily reinstated the two until it can hear an appeal by the city of an earlier ruling overturning their firing.
Murr and Devin Sparks cqcq were fired for the videotaped beating of Michael DeHerrera. A hearing panel of lawyers who hear discipline cases for the Commission overturned the firing.
After the City appealed the hearing panel's decision the Commission ruled the panel was wrong to reinstate them.
The hearing panel must now consider Sparks' and Murr's appeal of their terminations.
Tom McGhee: 303-954-1671 or firstname.lastname@example.org