"That's when I expected to be shot"

Manuel Bojorquez
August 26, 2014

DENVER -- The parents of Michael Brown told CBS News' Mark Strassmann they'd had a conversation with their son about how to deal with police. They say they told him to respect and obey police officers.

Many parents of black children have had the same talk. But it is not one that Alex Landau's parents thought they needed to have with him.

Landau vividly recalls the night five years ago when a traffic stop on a Denver street ended with an officer's gun at his head.

"I could see the metal. I could see the officer's hand gripping the back strap. And that's when I expected to be shot," said Landau, adding it was "really emotional" to return to the scene of the incident.

Police found marijuana on his passenger, who is white. They began searching the car. Landau said when he asked if they had a warrant, three white officers - one of whom was female - started beating him.

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Alex Landau after being beaten by police officers.

When asked if he did something to threaten the police officers, he responded, "No, actually I was pinned to a position where I couldn't even move. ... I hear an officer shout, 'He's reaching for her gun. He's reaching for her gun.' All I could do was say, 'No, I'm not. I'm not reaching for anything.'"

He expected to die that night.

The beating required 45 stitches, left him with a concussion and a traumatic brain injury.

Landau said the only thing worse than the beating was hearing the screams of his mother, Patsy Hathaway, when she saw him.

"I still cry. I still get ... angry outta nowhere," says Hathaway. "People don't understand: a beating like this traumatizes a family for years.

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Patsy Hathaway quit her job to join her son's fight against racial profiling and excessive force. CBS News

Hathaway and her now ex-husband adopted Alex and his sister, Maya, when they were babies. As a white mother raising a black son, she never had "the talk" with her son - the talk many black parents have about encounters with police.

"I was terribly uneducated about all of this. And I learned the very, very hard way, when they almost killed him. ... The problem is racism."

None of the officers were prosecuted or disciplined in the Landau case. However, Landau did receive $800,000 from the city of Denver. Two of the officers were later fired for lying about other beatings. One of those was captured on videotape. Hathaway quit her job as a teacher to join her son's fight against racial profiling and excessive force.

"I never intended to spend this part of my life studying police brutality, but that's what has happened," said Hathaway.

It's a new conversation for this family. But with Ferguson, Missouri, fresh on many minds, it is one millions of mothers and sons have every day.

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