Officer involved in Alex Landau beating sues city for violating his rights
DENVER – In a wide-ranging complaint faulting law enforcement, public officials and the media, a police officer accused of using excessive force on multiple occasions is suing several city of Denver officials, his lawyer said Thursday.
Denver police officer Ricky Nixon’s complaint asserts that the Denver Police Department destroyed his reputation and livelihood after he was named in two excessive force complaints.
The department bowed to pressure from politicians and a public misinformed by biased media, when in fact police officials should have known that Nixon’s use of violence was justified, a media release from lawyer John McKendree argues. The suit also claims Nixon’s constitutional rights were violated.
“I had no other choice but to file this lawsuit because the unconstitutional actions of the city have been unrelenting and vicious,” Nixon said in a statement. “Responding to public pressure, political ambitions of city officials and overreaction to individuals charged with a crime, the city chose to fight me rather than stand behind me.”
Nixon has been involved in two high-profile use-of-force cases. In 2009, Nixon and another officer beat 23-year-old Alex Landau with flashlights during a traffic stop. Landau claimed that he was attacked for asking whether police had a warrant to search his car (they did not), but the officers said they feared for their lives and believed Landau had a weapon. It was later proven that Landau was unarmed.
No criminal charges were filed in the case, but the city settled with Landau for $795,000. In the new suit, Nixon argues that the settlement made it seem like he had done something wrong, when in fact several investigations found that he had not.
Later in 2009, Nixon and Officer Kevin Devine injured four women during an incident at the Denver Diner. The women said they were beaten with nightsticks and maced even though they were not resisting, but police said the force was justified.
Nixon and Devine were fired in 2011 for falsifying his reports, but Nixon was rehired a short time later. This prompted the women in the Denver Diner incident to sue the city, alleging it turned a blind eye to police misconduct.
In the new suit, Nixon claims he is subjected to “a public rebuke, outcry and threatening attitude,” including threatening Facebook posts, because the city failed to support him.
He also claims his rights are routinely violated at work because of his connection to the incidents. Specifically, Nixon objects to being assigned to desk jobs and radar duty. He further alleges that his damaged reputation prevents him from getting work elsewhere in law enforcement.