Former US attorney John Walsh to review intoxicated on-duty Aurora police officer incident

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AURORA | Former U.S. attorney John Walsh will conduct an independent review of an incident involving an intoxicated Aurora police officer who was found unconscious in his stalled, unmarked police car in March. 

Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly announced the independent review at the end of a city council study session on Monday. 

Twombly told the The Sentinel Walsh was chosen because of his credibility and objectivity. 

“He’s independent, and that was really important,” Twombly said. 

Officer Nathan Meier admitted to drinking vodka on-duty and becoming so impaired he apparently lost consciousness the afternoon of March 29, according to police documents. First responders with Aurora police and Aurora Fire Rescue, including Deputy Police Chief Paul O’Keefe, found Meier unresponsive in his stalled, unmarked police car in the middle of East Mississippi Avenue near Buckley Air Force base.

The car was on, and Meier had his duty weapon on his person, according to police documents. Fire personnel eventually broke a passenger’s side window in an attempt to extricate Meier from the Ford Taurus after he did not respond to repeated knocking.

Meier was not fired and remains on the job. He was demoted, TV station KCNC-TV first reported last week.

According to internal Aurora police documents acquired by The Sentinel, a DUI investigation was not performed because officers were reportedly unsure of Meier’s health condition at the time, despite multiple officers reporting smelling alcohol on his person and one remarking on-scene that Meier was impaired.

There isn’t a timeline for Walsh’s review, but Twombly said he has expressed to Walsh that it’s important to “get this done quickly.” Twombly said the investigation will begin immediately and will be available to the public once completed.

There aren’t any specific rules or guidelines that apply to independent investigations like this one, Twombly said. Twombly added during the city council meeting the review will include the police department’s response to the incident.

This investigation doesn’t bar the local district attorney’s office from conducting its own investigation either. 

“The DA can certainly do whatever he’s going to do, but we don’t have any control at what he’ll look at… We want the best review that we can control,” Twombly said. 

Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said last week that his office has initiated an “inquiry” to determine “what information exists regarding this incident,” according to a Dec. 11 tweet.

Walsh dropped out of the U.S. Senate race in September, running as a Democrat, and then announced he is backing former Gov. John Hickenlooper to run against Sen. Cory Gardner.

— Grant Stringer contributed to this report