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A 2009 police encounter nearly cost this Denver teen his life. He's alive and telling his story.

He survived his 2009 run-in with police. Many others weren't so lucky.

A 2009 police encounter nearly cost this Denver teen his life. He's alive and telling his story.

In 2009, 19-year-old Alex Landau was pulled over by three Denver police officers.

Officially, the officers told Landau that he'd been pulled over for making an illegal left turn, a minor moving violation that ordinarily comes with a small fine.

Unfortunately for Alex, his experience was about to be anything but ordinary.


GIFs from StoryCorps.

Last year, Alex and his mother Patsy Hathaway shared the story of that evening with StoryCorps.

StoryCorps has since made a short animated video featuring their retelling:

For Alex, things took a dark turn after he asked the officers if they had a warrant to search his trunk.

"So I asked them, 'Can I please see a warrant before you continue to search?'" Alex says. "And they grabbed me and began to hit me in the face."

A piece published in Westword expanded on Alex's story.

"[The officer] then asked Landau if he could search his car.

Landau agreed. As the cop rummaged around the seats, two additional officers, a man and a woman, arrived in a second squad car. Once he was finished with the front and back seats, the first cop took Landau's keys and went to unlock the trunk.

Knowing about the weed there, Landau took several steps forward with his hands raised above his head, as if to show he meant no harm, and asked if the officer had a warrant to search the trunk."



After knocking Alex to the ground, the three officers continued to hit him with flashlights, radios, and, yes, fists.

"I could feel the gun pressed to my head. I expected to be shot."

As he gasped for breath, Alex heard one of the officers shout out, "He's reaching for her gun!" One of the officers then put a gun to Alex's head, saying, "If he doesn't calm down, we're going to have to shoot him."

That's when he blacked out.

Luckily, Alex survived to tell his story. Sadly, he'd be forced to relive it for years to come.

It took 45 stitches to close Alex's wounds — graphic photos of his injuries can be found here. Alex filed a report with the city, but the officers involved sidestepped responsibility for the assault. Two of the officers were eventually fired after getting caught beating another person (this time, it was on tape).

In 2013, the Denver Police Department announced that it had determined that officers involved in Alex's beating were not guilty of misconduct. Two years earlier, the department settled with Alex and his family for nearly $800,000.


Alex's story isn't unique and that's what makes it so important to discuss.

The past few years have been filled with high-profile instances of unarmed black men like Alex being beaten and all-too-frequently killed by white police officers.

Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Mike Brown, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Akai Gurley, Rumain Brisbon, Tony Robinson, Phillip White, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray lost their lives after being confronted by police — and these are just some of the names since April 2014.

Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images.

This is the basis of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

If you have to ask why the movement is #BlackLivesMatter and not #AllLivesMatter, it's because to much of the world — and, disturbingly, to law enforcement — black lives often don't matter. That needs to change.

It's #BlackLivesMatter and not #AllLivesMatter because that's the reality. Alex's passenger — who was caught with drugs — made it through the night of their encounter with the police without injury. He's white.

We've seen how this plays out. We've seen that Alex's story is not simply an outlier.

No one should have to fear that their encounter with police will land them in the hospital. No one should have to fear for their life when they see the blue and red flashing lights. But until that's the case, the most important thing we can do is to lift stories like Alex's.

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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