Other Aurora Police Department Officers Protected Drunk Cop, DA SaysBy Brian Maass


DENVER (CBS4) – District Attorney George Brauchler says after a lengthy investigation, he has concluded he cannot file DUI charges against Aurora Police Officer Nate Meier, who was found drunk, in uniform, and on duty, passed out at the wheel of an Aurora police vehicle last March.

“At the end of the day, I think this guy beats the system and part of the system helped him do it,” said Brauchler in an exclusive interview Wednesday afternoon with CBS4.

nate nathan meier aurora police

Body camera video shows Officer Nate Meier passed out in his police vehicle. (credit: Aurora)

Brauchler accused the Aurora Police Department of intentionally tilting their investigation away from a DUI charge and giving Meier preferential treatment due to his badge.

“I think if instead of a uniformed police officer in a marked patrol vehicle in the middle of the street, it had been Jane Q. Lunchpail, I think this thing is handled differently,” Brauchler said. “Did they treat this incident and this person the way they would have treated anyone else? The answer that I have come to is no they did not.”

Meier was found at the wheel of an Aurora police vehicle March 29, 2019, near Buckley Air Force Base. He was passed out with the car in gear and Meier’s foot was on the brake. But as CBS4 first reported in December, APD higher ups said they weren’t sure Meier was drunk, so they categorized the situation as being a medical event and had him transported to a hospital.

Nate Meier (credit: CBS)

Meier was never charged with DUI and commanders never ordered any alcohol testing of the officer. However, Meier later admitted during an internal affairs investigation he had been drinking vodka at home before hitting the road, and multiple sources have told CBS4 that while at the hospital, a blood test showed Meier was five times the legal limit for DUI.

But Brauchler said he is unable to legally use the blood test results due to HIPAA privacy rules and he is also legally barred from using Meier’s admissions during the internal affairs investigation, which led to a demotion, but allowed Meier to keep his job.

“Yes there is damning evidence that convinces me that this guy was drunk behind the wheel, but it’s evidence I don’t get to use in a criminal case against him because it was compelled or protected by physician-patient privilege,” Brauchler concluded.

The prosecutor said after learning of the questionable case from media reports, he launched his own investigation in December to see if he could still file a criminal charge. But after conducting interviews with police officers, paramedics and reviewing reports, Brauchler concluded he could not file a case “because of the decisions the Aurora Police Department made at the scene.”

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass speaking with District Attorney George Brauchler. (credit: CBS)

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass speaking with District Attorney George Brauchler. (credit: CBS)

“It is really frustrating,” said Brauchler.

He said he does not believe what happened was a police cover up, but “I think this was in the zip code of that though. I don’t believe it was handled properly.”

Brauchler said based on his investigation, he believes the Aurora Police Department intentionally failed to gather evidence that could have led to a DUI charge. He pointed to the following facts to support that conclusion:

  • Although a bottle was spotted in Meier’s department vehicle, Brauchler said no search of the vehicle was ever done and the bottle was not tested for alcohol, or put in to evidence, which is what typically happens in DUI cases.
  • Five officers had body cameras, said Brauchler, but he said they only collected 16 minutes of footage as officers kept turning their cameras on and off. “When you get that kind of action, in a case that involves these kinds of questions about a colleague, it begins to look and feel like something else,” Brauchler explained.
  • APD failed to collect evidence that is typically collected in other DUI cases.
  • Deputy Chief Paul O’Keefe did not seek a warrant to obtain Meier’s blood alcohol level after the officer was hospitalized. “I think the decisions that were made,” Brauchler said, “were made to protect him (Meier).”

Brauchler went on to say that he looked into charging O’Keefe with official misconduct for his actions, but the prosecutor said there was not enough evidence.

Following the Meier controversy, O’Keefe announced he was retiring from APD at the end of March. O’Keefe previously declined a request for an interview.

Brauchler praised the rank and file at the Aurora Police Department, saying the vast majority are excellent officers working for a top-shelf department.

“This incident has got to embarrass the hell out of those men and women,” Brauchler said. “That they have to wear that skepticism from the public because of how this incident was handled.”

He said the unusual way the Meier case was handled undermines confidence in the Aurora Police Department, and law enforcement in general, emphasizing this case shows the pitfalls of an agency investigating itself.

“If you’re a hater out there and you don’t think these men and women can police themselves, this is exhibit one,” Brauchler said.

Officer Meier remains with the Aurora Police Department but has declined to discuss what happened.

Brauchler said he informed Interim Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson of his decision and she indicated to him cases like this would be handled differently going forward. Brauchler has also scheduled a news conference for 9 a.m. Thursday to elaborate on his decision.

The city of Aurora commissioned a second independent investigation to examine the police department’s conduct in this case. The results of that investigation have not yet been released.

View the unedited interview with District Attorney George Brauchler here:

 

Watch Brauchler’s Thursday news conference below.

https://www.facebook.com/coda18/videos/2529855337253371/

Brian Maass

Comments (12)
  1. Harry Callahan SFPD says:

    Brauchler works with these clowns when they gun down people who are no threat like driving 17 mph at them from 50 feet away of a guy in a ski mask. He can’t say “cover-up”. It was. Everybody there and Metz are liars protecting cops.

  2. Joseph Bell says:

    The DA’s eyes shift left when he says, “I don’t think it was a cover-up.”

    And what’s with this lightweight journalist responding by saying, “It seems like you’re saying they extended ‘professional courtesy’ to him.”

    How is that different than a cover-up? It’s not.

    This “journalist” is not exposing any corruption. He then remarks,”I can see you’re very frustrated.” Really? He’s only frustrated because it went viral.

    Grave injustice.

    To understand why something like this would happen, check this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSz2m3kwdaw

  3. Curtis Sliwa says:

    The D.A. knows it was a cover-up but he works with these lying crooks like O’keefe and the gone Metz. He can’t even convict a crooked cop stealing 40G who currently is still spending it. Metz: “I thought the F.B.I. would do something”. No Metz, you are a crooked ex chief who covered for the crooked cop not getting fired. The APD stinks!

  4. John says:

    He doesn’t think there was a coverup but it’s “in the zip code” of one? What f ing zip code was the law school you attended in?

  5. Desiree says:

    Sad to see such corruption – people in government allowing other government employees to break the law without consequences. IMHO, none of the people involved in the investigation or this guy should be working for the government.

  6. Curtis Sliwa says:

    O’Keefe should be fired as well as the drunk cop. Metz, everybody knows he was a cover-up king in the beginning. APD on duty protected by themselves.

  7. Jennifer says:

    I don’t understand why the DA says he cannot ethically win a conviction. I also do not understand why Officer Meier has not voluntarily resigned from the Aurora Police Department. Furthermore, how has this story not made national news?

  8. An Aurora Police office was awarded Traffic Officer of the year last year. On the award is my nephews name, Dalton McCreary. My nephew was killed by a drunk driver on Mississippi and Iliff 3 years ago and we were so honored that they included my nephew and we were honored that the APD did such an excellent job helping to convict the drunk driver who killed Dalton. Seeing this on the news really hurt my family and we feel that the APD has not only let us down and sullied my nephews name, they have let the rest of the community down. How could a police department that seemed so dedicated to making the streets safe allow their own to endanger the community they are paid to protect?

  9. Harry Callahan SFPD says:

    Everything I said was true: corrupt cops protecting their own even Metz. This is why there is the blue silence. The on scene video is hilarious!!!! Pointed down cameras, turned off etc.. The APD is god damn joke. He got off, as expected. You losers!

  10. Taryn J. White says:

    Every ordinary citizen would be arrested in this same scenario and have to fightduicharges in court. This hypocrisy once again shows how many in gov’t are above the law.

  11. Mark Felt says:

    Not really all that difficult. You write a POR (Production of Records) for his medical records that show his BAC at 0.495 and then you show the video that has been played numerous times on the local Denver channels. Highly doubtful a jury would fail to convict after watching him remain passed out and incoherent as his gun belt and weapons are removed. This is an easy win
    Mr. DA and now your office has dropped the ball.

  12. Vince says:

    Gee…..what a surprise. Zero confidence with the a$$holes at APD.

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