Streams

After A Traffic Stop, Teen Was 'Almost Another Dead Black Male'

Friday, August 15, 2014

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story contains graphic descriptions and offensive language.

Alex Landau, who is African-American, was adopted by a white couple as a child and grew up in largely white, middle-class suburbs of Denver.

Still, "we never talked about race growing up," Landau tells his mother, Patsy Hathaway, on a visit to StoryCorps. "I just don't think that was ever a conversation."

"I thought that love would conquer all and skin color really didn't matter," Hathaway says. "I had to learn the really hard way when they almost killed you."

That was in 2009, when Landau, then a college student, was stopped by Denver police officers and severely beaten.

Landau was 19 at the time, driving around Denver with a friend in the passenger seat. He noticed red and blue lights behind him. The officer who pulled him over "explained I had made an illegal left turn, and to step out of the car," Landau says.

"So I get out of the car first," he says. "And then he goes around to the passenger side and pulls my friend Addison out of the car. ... Addison is white, and he had some weed in his coat pocket. So he gets placed in handcuffs."

Landau thought he was safe. He wasn't in handcuffs, he says, and he'd already been patted down. "Plus there's three officers on the scene. And I had never had a negative interaction with police in my life.

"So I ask them, 'Can I please see a warrant before you continue the search?' " Landau says. "And they grab me and began to hit me in the face. I could hear Addison in the background yelling, 'Stop! Leave him alone.'

"I was hit several times, and I remember gasping for air" and spitting blood, he says.

"And then I hear an officer shout out, 'He's reaching for a gun,' " he tells his mother. "I immediately started yelling, 'No, I'm not. I'm not reaching for anything.' "

Landau felt a gun against his head, he says. "And I expected to be shot. And at that point I lost consciousness. ...

"It took 45 stitches to close up the lacerations in my face alone," Landau says.

Hathaway was teaching a second-grade glass when she got a call about Landau. "All she said was, 'You'd better come see about your son.' She didn't say anything about what kind of shape you were in," she says.

All she remembers from the moment she saw Landau, she says, "is involuntarily screaming."

Her reaction brought Alex to tears, too. "And it wasn't my injuries that hurt," he says. "It was just seeing how it devastated you. ... For me, it was the point of awakening to how the rest of the world is going to look at you. I was just another black face in the streets, and I was almost another dead black male."

In 2011, Alex was awarded a $795,000 settlement by the City of Denver. Two of the police officers involved have since been fired for uses of excessive force not related to this incident.

Audio produced for Morning Edition by Jud Esty-Kendall.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Source: NPR

Tags:

More in:

Comments [15]

"I'll tell you what's at the bottom of it. If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

LBJ in 1960, in response to racist signs held by Johnson's motorcade in Tennessee. Recounted by Bill Moyers, then a member of Johnson's staff, in Bill Moyers: "What a Real President Was Like; To Lyndon Johnson, the Great Society Meant Hope and Dignity," The Washington Post, Nov. 13, 1988.
(en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Lyndon_B._Johnson)

I wonder how empty Pajak & BJK's pockets are. Or rather, what did they have to put off purchasing (vacation, new car?) to support their RKBA organization or local LE or "citizen's club"

Aug. 16 2014 11:58 PM
BJK from NYC

"This is why Cops can get away with such brutal barbarism because people you like have no sympathy for the victims who disproportionately die at the hands of Police."
Funny, I've never heard a sympathetic story on NPR about the approx ~ 250 officers killed yearly in the line of duty and added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Wash, DC: http://www.nleomf.org/memorial/names/
It doesn't fit the narrative of the out-of-control, racist, trigger-happy cop being pushed now by the media to an absurd extreme.
A few-minutes check will call up tens of recent traffic stops where police have been shot dead in cold blood.
Imagine, the temerity of these cops firing on suspects pointing a gun at them or violently trying to disarm them.
Who the hell do they think they are, exercising their right to self-defense and to live?

Aug. 16 2014 06:28 PM

These sorts of police brutality stories are starting to become routine. Unfortunately, what's even more routine is that police officers rarely serve jail sentences for aggravated assault or felony murder as result of such flagrant abuses of authority.

Aug. 16 2014 02:57 PM
FU PIGS

Policemen Fired. FIRED? FIRED?!?!?!?!?!?!!?! That's it? How about ARRESTED and JAILED for ASSAULT?!?!? They commited a crime, they should do the time.

There are good policemen out there. These guys are not it. They're criminals with a badge. Put them in jail.

Aug. 16 2014 12:13 PM
Ganymede2010 from San Francisco

I see many of you who commented can't read. The article said nothing about racism, the article is titled "Almost another Dead Black Male". It's depressing how many of you immediately got defensive due to the circumstances of the case. Death by Cop won't be taken seriously until it starts to affect more affluent citizens instead of those who lack the resources to hold them accountable. This is why Cops can get away with such brutal barbarism because people you like have no sympathy for the victims who disproportionately die at the hands of Police.

Aug. 16 2014 06:09 AM
jb

why is it always marketed as a racial issue? Dbag cops are dbag cops whom may or may not have racial biases but I doubt that there is any clear correlation between the proclivity for abuse and race.

I'm a white guy that grew up as the ONLY white kid in a 2 mile radius. Since I am white, I never had any issues at all with the police. <eyeroll/>

Aug. 16 2014 03:06 AM

@ human being: sorry! I wanted to give a negative score to John Pajak!!
Dunno if there's a way to revert the score given...

@ John Pajak: I'm so sorry for people like you, obviously you are missing the best part of our existence. You're too concerned about yourself and your little world. Consider yourself lucky if you'll find/have someone who can barely stand next to you, but don't rely on that: considered your idea of human relation ship that won't last for too long (unless you find other people like you, but that's not a relationship it's just a herd).

Aug. 16 2014 02:17 AM
human being

John Pajak - The cops cost you your tax payers money, you poor, ignorant, fool.

Aug. 16 2014 12:25 AM
Jason

So where was the racism in that story? You don't think white people get beat up by cops? This sounds like your typical cops on a power trip story that I have been hearing my entire life from whites and blacks.

Aug. 16 2014 12:18 AM
John Pajak from nyc ny

I would prefer the police just shoot next time, it would save the taxpayers a lot of money.

Aug. 16 2014 12:15 AM
John Pajak

I would prefer the police just shoot next time, it would save the taxpayers a lot of money.

Aug. 16 2014 12:14 AM
John Pajak

I would prefer the police just shoot next time, it would save the taxpayers a lot of money.

Aug. 16 2014 12:14 AM
BlackSayyidQubt from Earth

"Two of the police officers involved have since been fired for uses of excessive force not related to this incident."

I wonder how many Black and/or Hispanic mean had to get beaten before those 2 pics got fired. I bet it took over a $1,000,000.00 pay out.

Aug. 15 2014 12:30 PM
Eifel Platt

So that worked out fine and all ended well. That's nice. What's the story?

Aug. 15 2014 11:53 AM
M from brooklyn

no matter how many stories like these some people read/hear the reality will never sink in.

Aug. 15 2014 11:39 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.

Sponsored

About Morning Edition

Morning Edition is your perfect morning companion: gentle, but straightforward, explaining the vagaries of international diplomacy, reporting weather and even recommending the best film in town.

Feeds

Supported by