(Trigger warning: Violent depiction of police brutality and racist language) 

As news of traffic stops leading to civilian deaths continue to make nationwide news and inspire activism—particularly so close to the anniversary of Michael Brown’s killing—StoryCorps has released a new piece that sheds light on how fast a pull-over can become a life-or-death situation. 

Alex Landau is the black son of white adoptive parents. His family did not discuss race as he was growing up; his parents wanted to raise him in an egalitarian way. But in 2009, when Denver police pulled Landau and a white friend over for a traffic violation, his simple request for a warrant led to explosive violence. A group of cops beat him, put a gun to his head, accused him of reaching for a gun, called him the N-word and laughed about the injuries they’d inflicted on him. StoryCorps animated his story, told in tandem with his mother, where Landau learned the hard way that he could be dead at a moment’s notice.

Check out the stark clip for “Traffic Stop” above.