Aurora police officer passes out drunk in car on duty, has to be broken out by firefighters, keeps his job
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He was armed. He was uniformed. He was on-duty and parked in the middle of the street. And, he was passed out inside a running patrol vehicle, which was in gear, the windows rolled up, and his foot on the brake. Nobody could get his attention.
Officer Nathan F. Meier of the Aurora police department was discovered unconscious in his patrol vehicle around 3:45 p.m. on March 29th. People on the scene called 911, because the doors were locked and they could not wake Meier up. When firemen arrived, neither could they. So, without hesitation they broke the window and retrieved the officer from the car — he was completely unresponsive and wreaked of alcohol, according to paramedics. They quickly rushed Meier off to the hospital, where he was treated.
Aurora police then began an investigation.
An investigation which recently closed. And in its wake, nothing really happened. Meier was slapped on the wrist, but he still has his job, and he didn’t even get a ticket for the slip-up. Which has raised questions from the district attorney.
“I don’t have any reason to second-guess the Aurora Police Department’s conduct in the investigation at this point, but I’m interested in knowing what information exists,” District Attorney George Brauchler told the Denver Post. “That interest stems from the fact it involves an officer in that agency.”
Which, is to say there are lingering questions here. Like Why didn’t Meier get a DUI? How come Meier was allowed to keep his job? And has this kind of thing happened before?
We know Meier was drunk because he went home while he was on shift and drank vodka — the report says as much. However, no blood test was taken when he went to the hospital.
Aurora police say that was intentional, that they didn’t take a blood test because it would have violated the officer’s privacy, and police policy. When he was unconscious he couldn’t give them permission to take a sample of his blood, so despite the reasonable suspicion that he was intoxicated, they didn’t bother with it. Meaning that there is no hard proof that Meier was drunk at the wheel, when this incident occurred and so no DUI investigation ever happened.
So what, then, were the repercussions?
Meier was demoted from “agent” to “officer,” he received an unpaid suspension, he’s been reassigned to the Investigation Bureau for Economic Crimes and Pawn Detail, and he was sternly told not to let it happen again.
This was not Meier’s first slip up as a police officer, though, either. On his application for the Aurora police department he specified that he had previously been fired, received written reprimands and was investigated by his employer for improper conduct and illegal activities. He acknowledged being found guilty of a misdemeanor, and said on the form that he “had engaged in undetected theft of goods or property.”
“I don’t like double standards for law enforcement,” said Aurora Councilman Juan Marcano, who called this incident a “bad look” for the whole community.
“If you were a civilian, that would have gotten you charged with multiple counts,” Marcano said. “If we are going to have trust with our community and our officers, we need to have accountability.”
That strikes the nut of this whole conversation. There are clear double standards for police officers who find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Had this been a civilian, there’s no doubt they would have been charged with a DUI, arrested, sent to jail, fired from their job, and left to deal with thousands of dollars in citation and court fees, with no income to pay for them.
But because Meier was a cop, he was forgiven for his trespasses, given a “get out of jail free” card and sent on his merry way. And he’s still out there, patrolling the streets of Aurora, supposedly keeping the community safe.