Aurora police promote cop who escaped DUI after being found passed out in duty vehicle in 2019

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This screen grab from Aurora police body cam video shows Officer Nathan Meier passed out behind the wheel of his police car as fellow officers try to extract him. An investigation later determined that Meier had passed out from drinking. SENTINEL FILE PHOTO

AURORA | Almost four years after being caught passed out drunk in his police vehicle and avoiding criminal consequences, Aurora police officer Nate Meier has been promoted, according to Aurora police.

Meier’s name was included on a list of sworn Aurora Police Department employees who passed a promotional exam to advance from the rank of officer to agent, according to publicly available test results posted on the City of Aurora’s website.

The promotion was first  reported by CBS Denver. The station aired parts of a recorded conversation with interim police chief Art Acevedo, who said Meier had “turned his life around” since the 2019 drunken driving incident, which garnered national media attention.

“I actually had him come into my office and we had a very frank conversation,” Acevedo told the station. “He as the individual has actually done what he was supposed to do, which is turn his life around. … I believe it saved his life, as a person.”

The chief later wrote in a Twitter post that he was “disappointed” the CBS Denver TV story did not mention that the promotion in Meier’s case was the result of an automatic process that he would have been unable to block. The department did not immediately respond to a list of questions from The Sentinel about Meier’s promotion.

In March 2019, Meier was found drunk and unresponsive in his unmarked police vehicle by Aurora police. First responders had to break the window of the car to remove Meier, who later said he had been drinking vodka at home during his shift and blacked out.

While officers said Meier smelled like alcoholic beverages, police did not formally investigate Meier for drunken driving. Then Deputy Chief Paul O’Keefe said he wanted to protect Meier, who he believed could have been suffering from a medical problem.

Former Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said at the time he did not have enough evidence to prosecute Meier due to the failure of police to take a sample of Meier’s blood and case law that limits the admissibility of information shared during the internal affairs process. Brauchler openly speculated that a civilian in Meier’s situation would have been treated differently by police.

O’Keefe resigned when then-chief Vanessa Wilson announced she would be opening an investigation into his handling of the Meier incident. Meier kept his job, though he was demoted and temporarily suspended.

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Jim
Jim
22 days ago

Retaining Meier on the APD force rather than terminating him for egregious misconduct was a Metz/Okeefe mess. Their own internal review board which recommended termination was ignored. That being said, I think it is unfair to call for Meier’s scalp. Almost 4 years have passed and he must have performed his duties in a satisfactory manner, stayed sober, and not engaged in any actionable misconduct. Otherwise, he would have been fired after being demoted. I think it is safe to assume his supervisors were closely monitoring his performance after what happened in 2019. He had every right to apply for repromotion to his prior position of detective when was eligible. The CSC competitive assessment process is rigorous. In order to be qualified for promotion he had to convince three outside assessors with no ties to APD that he could successfully navigate the exercises every candidate for detective must pass to move forward. The fact he ranked third on the list demonstrates he received high scores from the assessors. I would like to think most of us believe in second chances and redemption. From what I have read about Interim Chief Azevedo’s remarks he has turned his life and career around.

DICK MOORE
22 days ago

Can’t say this is “real news” for Aurora citizens. One policeman makes a huge mistake, then three years later is promoted. That’s one APD member out of 700.

What I can say is that this reporter, reporting “fake news” uses this APD member as a “fall guy” to continue to use this Sentinel blog to undermine the APD in any way negatively possible.

Max, this Sentinel blog nor I know if he deserved this promotion or not. The new Chief and/or those leaders that promoted him have all the answers. It’s not up to this blog to micro manage our Police Department.

Jeffro
Jeffro
22 days ago

What B.S. If a civilian was arrested for a felony D.U.I., they would never be able to be a police officer. So what do they do? They take the drunk cop and give him a promotion. Do you really think they would forgive you and just let it slide? Yea. Definitely not.

Jim
Jim
22 days ago
Reply to  Jeffro

Take the time to do some research on how the Federal Aviation Administration provides commercial airline pilots with the disease of alcoholism an opportunity to return to the cockpit. You might learn something about a public safety occupation that affects significantly more lives than a police detective.

Doug
Doug
22 days ago
Reply to  Jeffro

The chief says he’s good now. It happens. It’s over. Let’s go on.

Justin
Justin
21 days ago

The problem with Nate Meier is that even though previous administrations have failed both him and the department, he has continued to be protected throughout. Instead of holding him to task, he has been working a cushy, behind the scenes job while while overworked Officers have had to go through the summer of 2020’s protests/riots, rock bottom morale, low staffing that has instituted mandatory overtime, etc. Seeing as Nate wasn’t criminally charged, I can only assume his still intact driver’s license would have allowed him to push a radiator, with the rest of the Officer’s trying to right the ship because of his stupidity.
Now, I will give new Chief Acevedo the benefit of the doubt since this is the crap sandwich that was dropped in his lap. Time will tell what happens when no District Attorney will take a case filing with Nate’s name on it. That is when we will find out what the Chief plans to do with APD’s new $110k embarrassment.

Last edited 21 days ago by Justin
Jim
Jim
20 days ago
Reply to  Justin

Facts are important and that means one should pay attention to the timeline of key events. Meier was found passed out in his patrol car March 2019. Okeele retired and left town shortly thereafter. Metz.announced his retirement in September 2019 and was gone by the beginning of the new year. Vanessa Wison comes on board shortly thereafter and is in charge of APD. She did not believe Metz and Okeefe handled the Meier matter correctly. However, Meier is still employed and it is under her watch. Does not logic tell you that if he screwed up she would have fired him? His two sponsors and protectors, Metz and Okeefe, were long gone. Give Meier a break.

Justin
Justin
20 days ago
Reply to  Jim

I agree, facts are important but I am aware that instead of putting him to work, Vanessa mothballed him while the rest of the department was left to deal with the fallout of his idiocy. I don’t know why she treated Nate the way that she did but it was not fair to the 99.9% of the department that just wants to be left alone and allowed to work. The rank and file resented her and him for how it turned out.
As you said before, the system allowed his promotion and Nate did what was allowed to move up the ladder. I just hope that as a tax payer, I hope we do not get stuck paying a detective’s salary for a data entry clerk. I still believe his name tainted in Adams/Arapahoe/Douglas where he will be expected to file cases. Time will tell.

Jim
Jim
19 days ago
Reply to  Justin

Justin, I was a newly appointed CSC Commissioner when this all went down with Meier. During my 3 year term I developed the utmost respect and appreciation for what you officers in the trenches do to keep us safe. I can surely understand resentment among the officers cadre if Meier was retained by Metz/OKeefe and given cream puff assignments. Now that he has been repromoted to his old police agent position he should be required to perform all of the duties and responsibilities that the job entails. I hope that happens. If not, you and your fellow officers have every right to continue to be dismayed by the way he has been treated. You folks are stressed out, short staffed, tired and probably don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel at this time. Let;s hope Acevedo, city council, and the city manager can make some demonstrative headway to right the APD ship. Stay safe..