AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – The Aurora Police Department is responding after an on-duty officers was found drunk behind the wheel of a patrol car. Nate Meier was found intoxicated, with his patrol car in gear and his foot on the brake. He was not arrested but was later disciplined and demoted.
According to an internal affairs report obtained by CBS4, two citizens called 911 on March 29 at 3:44 p.m.
“As I was passing I had to go around [the car] I could tell the gentleman in the car was kind of slumped over and passed out,” said one woman who wanted to remain anonymous. She went back to check on the driver.
“As I kind of kept knocking and trying to get his attention he would kind of open his eyes a little bit and glaze but he wasn’t coherent at all… and then I noticed he had an Aurora Police Department badge,” she told CBS4. That’s when she called for help.
“I wasn’t sure if it was alcohol but I knew it was some kind of something,” she added.
When Meier, 48, didn’t respond to attempts to wake him up, first responders smashed a car window to get him out. Officers then “reported smelling the odor of an unknown alcoholic beverage.” Meier was not taken into custody or charged, but was taken to an area hospital.
He later told investigators he had gone home on duty and and drank “vodka from a bottle.” Meier lives in Parker. He admitted he was “impaired by the alcohol,” according to police investigators.
Multiple sources familiar with the case said blood alcohol tests at the hospital showed Meier was at least five times the legal limit for DUI.
The Aurora Police Department defended their decision to not give Meier a breathalyzer test that day, saying in part, “Due to an inability to exclude a medical condition, and absent confirmatory information, a DUI investigation was not conducted.”
On Thursday, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith blasted the Aurora Police Department’s handling of the episode — saying he was “appalled” and suggesting the incident was a police cover-up.
“I don’t see anything that says preferential treatment,” said Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler. “But, I want to know more… We’re trying to evaluate what the Aurora Police Department did.”