- In March 2019, on-duty Aurora Police Officer Nathan Meier was found passed out drunk behind the wheel of an unmarked patrol car.
- Newly released body camera footage shows his fellow officers arriving to the scene.
- Meier was not given a DUI, or any other criminal charges, and kept his job.
Recently released body camera footage shows an Aurora, Colorado police officer, Nathan Meier, passed out drunk at the wheel of an unmarked patrol car in the middle of a road.
Both fellow police officers and fire department officials are shown in the video, assessing the scene and helping transport Meier onto a stretcher to be taken to the hospital. Meier’s belt, complete with a firearm, can be seen being removed from his body before he was carried out of the car.
Glass is scattered over the passenger side after the fire department broke the window to reach Meier when he wasn’t responding.
“He’s uh, he’s a little intoxicated,” one officer can be heard saying in the clip.
Meier was on duty and dressed in his uniform on March 29, the day the incident occurred. According to an internal affairs summary obtained by CBS4, the car was running and in gear, stalled by his foot on the brake. Two people called 911 after noticing the officer appear to be unconscious in the middle of the street.
Meier later admitted that he had consumed vodka before getting in the car , but said he had no recollection from that point until he woke up in the hospital. Despite the admission, Meier did not undergo a DUI investigation, nor did he face any other criminal charges.
In their written reports of the incident, multiple officers noted that they smelled alcohol on Meier and in the vehicle, but one wrote that his physical demeanor “looked more medical in nature.”
Crystal McCoy, a spokeswoman for the Aurora Police Department, told CBS4 that Meier could have been experiencing a stroke or a diabetic episode. She said that although there were indications of driving intoxicated, the police didn’t have the authority to draw Meier’s blood because there was not an accident and nobody was hurt.
In addition to facing no legal charges for the March incident, Meier also kept his job, though the department told the Denver Post that he was demoted.
Police Chief Nick Metz sent an email to his staff on Friday, defending his decision not to fire Meier. He said his decision was partly made because Meier admitted to his mistake.
“I want you to know I unequivocally stand by my decision regarding the involved officer because I care about the human being who stepped up and owned his incredibly poor decision … and continues to courageously own it,” Metz wrote.
The chief also expressed his frustration for the “inaccurate media spin” of the event. Metz said that it’s important to him to find the “balance between discipline and support” as he claimed that cops face more trauma than most.
“We have to prove that it’s okay to use the resources we have in place (peer support, CAARS program, psych services, etc.) and the only way I can think to demonstrate that to you is through my actions,” Metz wrote.
“I will stand out front and take any criticisms the media, community members, or uninvolved law enforcement personnel want to throw at the department if it means an officer gets the help they need,” he added.
Community Calls for Further Investigation
On Monday night, at an Aurora City Council study session, City Manager Jim Twombly announced that he has asked former U.S. Attorney John Walsh to conduct an independent review of the police department’s handling of the case immediately.
“It is in the public’s best interest, that a thorough outside examination take place to ensure our residents’ confidence in our Police Department and its leadership,” said Twombly.
George Brauchler, the 18th Judicial District Attorney, said on Wednesday that his office was not alerted to the incident at the time it happened but said they plan to look into it further.
Aurora Councilperson Juan Marcano also said that he is seeking more information about Meier’s incident and is displeased with the lack of consequences.
“I don’t like double standards for law enforcement,” he said. “If you were a civilian, that would have gotten you charged with multiple counts.”
See what others are saying: (Fox31 Denver) (CBS Denver) (The Denver Post)
Florida Breaks Its Record for New Daily COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations
The Sunshine State now accounts for 20% of all new COVID-19 cases nationwide.
Florida Becomes COVID Epicenter
Florida reported 10,207 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Sunday, marking its largest single-day count to date. The grim record comes just one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that the state had counted 21,683 new infections Friday, its highest record of daily cases since the start of the pandemic.
Florida has become the new epicenter of the most recent U.S. outbreaks driven by the delta variant. The state now accounts for one out of every five new cases, and the weekend numbers are highly significant because they surpass previous records that were logged before vaccines were readily available.
Notably, Florida’s vaccination rate is actually the exact same as the nationwide average of 49% fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times tracker. In fact, Florida’s rate is the highest among the top 10 states currently reporting the most COVID cases.
While Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has encouraged Florida residents to get vaccinated, he and the state’s legislature have also made it much harder for local officials to enforce protections to mitigate further spread.
DeSantis Bars Masking in Schools
On the same day that the state reported its highest cases ever, DeSantis signed an executive order banning school districts from requiring students to wear a mask when they go back to school later this month.
The move directly contradicts guidance issued by the CDC last week, which recommended that everyone inside K-12 schools wear a face covering.
DeSantis, for his part, has repeatedly claimed the spikes are part of “seasonal” increases driven by more people being indoors and air-conditioning systems circulating the virus. Still, he argued also Friday that he did not think masks were necessary to prevent children from transmitting COVID in the classroom, where they are inside with air conditioning.
At the same time, last week, Florida reported more than 21,000 infections among children younger than 19.
Florida is not the only state that has banned schools from requiring masks. In fact, many of the states suffering the biggest spikes have done the same, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas — which all currently rank among the top 10 states with the highest per capita COVID cases.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (Axios)
Biden to Mandate COVID Vaccines for Federal Workers as CDC Changes Masking Guidance
News of the efforts came on the same day that the U.S. reported more than 100,000 new daily COVID cases for the first time since February.
Federal Vaccine Mandate
President Joe Biden will announce Thursday that all federal employees must get vaccinated against COVID-19 or consent to strict testing and other safety precautions, White House officials told reporters Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, Biden said he was considering the requirement but did not provide any more information.
While the officials also said the details are still being hashed out, they did note that the policy would be similar to ones recently put in place by California and New York City, which respectively required state and city workers to get the jab or submit to regular testing.
Also on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their guidelines to recommend that Americans who live in areas “of substantial or high transmission,” as well as all students and teachers, wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status.
Delta Causes Spikes, But Vaccines Still Prove Effective
The renewed COVID mitigation efforts come as the delta variant is driving massive surges all over the country.
Coronavirus cases have quadrupled throughout July, jumping from a weekly average of 11,799 on the first day of the month to 63,248 on Tuesday, according to The New York Times tracker. Tuesday also saw new daily infections topping 100,000 for the first time since February, with more than 108,000 reported, per The Times.
While the vast majority of new infections are among people who have not been vaccinated, there have also been increasing reports of breakthrough cases in people who have received the jab.
Those cases, however, do not mean that the vaccines are not effective.
No vaccine prevents 100% of infections. Health officials have said time and time again that the jabs are intended to prevent severe disease and death, and they are doing just that.
According to the most recent data for July 19, the CDC reported that only 5,914 of the more than 161 million Americans who have gotten the vaccine were hospitalized or died from COVID-19 — a figure that represents 0.0036% of vaccinated people.
While safety precautions may be recommended for some people who have received the vaccine, many media narratives have overstated the role breakthrough cases play in the recent spikes. As New York Magazine explains, it is imperative to understand these new mask recommendations are not happening because the vaccine is not effective, but because not enough people are getting the vaccine.
“Because breakthrough infections have so often made the news due to their novelty, that can create a perception of more cases than are actually happening — particularly without more robust tracking of the actual cases to provide context,” the outlet wrote.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNBC)
Wisconsin Police Deny Planting Evidence in Viral Video, Release Their Own Body Cam Footage
The footage police released shows that during a search, officers found a corner tear from a plastic bag inside a backseat passenger’s pocket. An officer then discarded it into the car after determining that it was empty.
Viral Video Appears To Show Officer Planting Evidence
The Caledonia Police Department in Wisconsin has responded to a viral cell phone video that appears to show an officer planting a small plastic baggie inside of a car during a traffic stop.
The now-viral footage was posted to Facebook by a man who goes by GlockBoy Savoo.
The user, who also filmed the clip, wrote in his post’s caption that the officer did this “just to get a reason to search the car” and said the cop didn’t know he was being recorded by the passenger.
Police Shut Down Accusations With Their Own Footage
After that video spread across social media, many were outraged, calling the Caledonia police dirty for seemingly planting evidence. All the outrage eventually prompted the department to announce an investigation Saturday.
Within hours, the department provided an update, claiming that officers didn’t actually plant any evidence or do anything illegal.
Police shared a lengthy summary of events, along with two body camera clips from the incident. That statement explained that the driver of the vehicle was pulled over for going 63 in a 45mph zone.
Two passengers in the backseat who were then spotted without seatbelts were asked to identify themselves and step out of the car. During a search of one passenger’s pockets, an officer pulled out “an empty corner tear” from a plastic baggie.
Police claim the corner tear did not contain any illegal substances, though they said this type of packaging is a common method for holding illegal drugs.
In one body cam clip, an officer can be heard briefly questioning the backseat passenger about the baggie. Then, that piece of plastic gets handed off to different officers who also determined it as empty before the officer in the original viral video discarded it into the back of the car.
The officer can also be seen explaining where the plastic came from to the passenger recording him.
“Aye, bro you just threw that in here!” the front seat passenger says, as heard in his version of the events.
“Yeah, cause it was in his pocket and I don’t want to hold onto it. It’s on their body cam that they took it off of him…I’m telling you where it came from, so. It’s an empty baggie at the moment too, so,” the officer replies.
The department went on to explain that while it would discourage officers from discarding items into a citizen’s car, this footage proves that evidence was not planted.
Authorities also noted that no arrests were made in this incident and the driver was the only one issued a citation for speeding. The statement added that since four officers were present at the scene, police have more than six hours of footage to review but they promised to release the footage in full in the near future.