(CBS4) – Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith Thursday morning blasted the Aurora Police Department’s handling of one of their own officer’s drunk driving episodes saying he is “appalled” and suggesting the Aurora incident was a police cover up.
“It’s a crock”, Smith told CBS4 in a phone interview, saying the Aurora Police Department’s explanation of the incident “doesn’t pass the smell test. I read your story and it infuriated me,” said Smith.
As CBS4 reported on Tuesday, in March, Aurora Police Officer Nathan Meier was found passed out at the wheel of an Aurora police car in the middle of a street near Buckley Air Force Base. Meier, 48, was in uniform, on duty and was armed with his service weapon. The car was in gear and Meier’s foot was on the brake. The incident happened mid-afternoon and came to light when two citizens called 911.
Aurora police officers said they smelled alcohol on Meier’s breath, but Meier was not charged for DUI or any other criminal act and was transported to an area hospital. Multiple Aurora police sources told CBS4 Meier’s blood alcohol was measured at the hospital and was at least five times the legal limit for DUI. Meier also later admitted he had driven home while on duty, drank vodka from a bottle and admitted he was impaired.
But Aurora police defended the lack of a DUI arrest saying they found no other evidence of alcohol in Meier’s police car and “This incident was treated as an emergency medical situation.”
At the hospital, APD said a sergeant who spoke to Meier did not smell any alcohol.
“Due to an inability to exclude a medical condition, and absent confirmatory information a DUI investigation was not conducted,” said Aurora police via a written statement.
“It was bull—t,” said Smith. “We need to hold each other accountable. I’m not afraid to speak up. You have to stick up for the right thing.”
Smith took to his sheriff’s Facebook page Thursday and wrote, “I have no tolerance for misconduct or cover up.”
He went on to write, “This kind of BS behavior by the officer and lack of accountability from the Aurora Police Department are inexcusable and are a slap in the face to the 14,000 brave and honorable peace officers across the state. The citizens should demand transparency and accountability from the Aurora Police Department on this one. The citizens deserve to know exactly what happened, who failed to act and what was or was not done to those involved in the incident.”
A police internal affairs investigation found Meier violated four department regulations including alcohol consumption. He was demoted but remains with the Aurora Police Department.
District Attorney George Brauchler said Wednesday he has asked his staff to begin an inquiry on how the Meier case was handled.
“I want more,” said Brauchler. “We’re trying to evaluate what the Aurora Police Department did.”
Smith said in his view, how the Meier case was handled furthers a narrative of police not being held accountable.