A Colorado police officer who was found drunk in his unmarked patrol car in March 2019 not only got to keep his job, but he was also never charged with a DUI. The sheriff of the county has accused the police department of a coverup.
Welfare Check Requested
On March 29, 2019, the Aurora Police Department (APD) was called to perform a welfare check on an unconscious driver inside a car sitting just outside of Buckley Air Force Base. When officers arrived, Aurora Fire Rescue firefighters were already on the scene and said that the person sitting in the car had been unresponsive to their instructions.
The car was sitting in the middle of the street with the engine running. The officers and firefighters decided to break the passenger front window to get access to the person sitting behind the wheel, who seemed disoriented and to be slipping in and out of consciousness. That person turned out to be Agent Nate Meier with APD.
In a general offense report that was filed after this incident, two officers said that they got a “fleeting” smell of alcohol when they entered the vehicle but they could see no other signs that Meier had been drinking in the car. Responding officer Paul O'Keefe also noted that he began to wonder if Meier was suffering from a medical condition because of a “lack of any additional evidence—no other noted smells, no bloodshot watery eyes, physical impairment inconsistent with my experience with DUI.”
Those responding to the scene decided to transport Meier to the hospital for treatment, but O'Keefe decided that no DUI testing would be performed.
Internal Affairs Investigation
Afterward, a discipline hearing report stated that on March 29, Meier arrived late to work and left four hours before his shift was to end. Meier also told internal affairs that he went home and drank vodka—while he was still on duty. The report went on to state, “You (Meier) admitted that you were impaired by alcohol. You stated you had no recollections of anything else until you woke up in the hospital.”
Even though APD did not order a DUI blood test, the hospital did draw blood for diagnostic purposes but the results could not be shared with APD due to HIPPA privacy laws. During the internal affairs investigation, Meier voluntary shared those results that indicated the level of his alcohol consumption. He also admitted to his poor choices and has been cooperative since.
Response and Reaction
In a statement, APD has said that Meier was demoted from Agent to officer and that between the demotion and a “significant” unpaid suspension, Meier has “experienced a financial impact in excess of $20,000 and will continue to experience such impact over the next few years as a result of his continued demotion.” If there is another similar infraction, Meier will be immediately terminated.
Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith criticized APD, saying he was appalled by their actions. “I'm one of the loudest defenders of America's men and women in blue when they are unfairly criticized for doing a very difficult job. However, I have no tolerance for misconduct or cover-up,” he said in a statement on Facebook.
DUI Defense Attorney for Seattle
If you are found to be unresponsive in a parked car in Seattle, you most likely won't get preferential treatment as Officer Meier did in Aurora. If you're facing a DUI charge, you need the experience of the Law Offices of Steve Karimi to defend your rights. Call 206-621-8777 today or fill out an online contact form to get started.