THE OFFICER NEAR THE END OF THIS VIDEO TELLS ANOTHER THAT THE UNCONSCIOUS COP IS ‘A LITTLE INTOXICATED.’
AURORA | Officer-worn body camera footage released by Aurora police appears to show an unconscious, on-duty APD officer stalled in a busy road while another officer later describes him as “a little intoxicated.”
Officer Nathan Meier admitted to drinking vodka on-duty and becoming so impaired in March before police and Aurora Fire Department first responders found him unconscious in his stalled, unmarked police car in the middle of East Mississippi Avenue near Buckley Air Force base.
In a surprise move, Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly announced that he had reached out to former US Attorney John Walsh to review the incident independently of Aurora police.
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.
Officer body-worn footage of the March 29 incident shows multiple officers and fire department officers tending to Meier before transporting him to the hospital. One officer, Eugene Vandyk, remarks to another officer arriving on the scene that Meier “is a little intoxicated.”
Vandyk groans and then promptly fumbles to switch off his body-worn camera.
Aurora police officials did not immediately say why Vandyk had switched off his camera.
The footage is in contrast to repeated police insistence that officers didn’t consider inebriation despite smelling what police officials described as a slight alcoholic smell in the car.
“The odor did not linger and was not prevalent,” officials said in the statement. “There was no evidence located in the vehicle indicating this was an incident involving alcohol. This incident was treated as an emergency medical situation until more information could be gathered.”
Other video shows Officer Cesar Rivas-Galvan struggling to take a jacket, duty belt and firearm from the apparently unconscious Meier, who is still in the front seat of his car. Rivas-Galvan later reported smelling what he believed to be alcohol on Meier, as did several other officers on-scene.
Meier later admitted to drinking that afternoon with hours still left in his shift. He woke up in the hospital and did not remember first responders shattering his car window, monitoring his vitals and loading him into an ambulance. Cars streamed by on either side of the East Mississippi Avenue median on a busy afternoon.
In a move that later won him praise from department brass, Meier admitted to drinking vodka before driving unsuccessfully. He also provided medical statements indicating alcohol was in his system that day. It is unclear how much Meier had consumed.
“During his Internal Affairs interview, Ofc. Meier immediately admitted to his actions and the poor choices he made that day, and has been cooperative throughout the process,” officials said in a statement last week.
Police spokeswoman Crystal McCoy later told TV Station KCNC-TV that Meier “chose to be honest.”
He was demoted, and the incident cost him more than $20,000 in legal fees and lost pay, officials said.
Officials also said a DUI was not conducted because the first responders were not sure whether one was necessary despite smelling booze on his person. Meier was also unconscious, and barring a felony charge, investigators could not have forced a blood sample, officials said.
A sergeant who visited Meier in his hospital room also did not smell alcohol on his breath, the police statement noted.
According to The Denver Post, police Chief Nick Metz told staff in a recent email that “the inaccurate media spin this past week has been frustrating.
“I don’t want this to become a distraction from a message I want all of you to hear loud and clear, which is this: If you make a mistake, OWN YOUR S**T….” he said.