Connect with us

U.S.

On-Duty Aurora Officer Kept Job and Faced No Criminal Charges After Passing Out Drunk Behind Wheel

Published

on

  • 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.

The Incident

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.

McCoy shared that Meier later voluntarily gave a blood sample, which showed alcohol in his system. His blood alcohol content was higher than 0.45, according to 9News.

Chief’s Defense

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)

U.S.

Ohio Will Give 5 People $1 Million for Getting Vaccinated

Published

on

  • Ohio is launching a lottery program that will give five people ages 18 or older $1 million each if they receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Five vaccinated people between 12 and 17 years old will win full four-year scholarships to one of the state’s public universities under a similar giveaway program. 
  • Some have criticized the move as a waste and misuse of federal coronavirus relief funds, but others applauded it as a strong effort to boost slumping vaccination rates.
  • Gov. Mike DeWine (R) addressed critics on Twitter, writing, “The real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to COVID-19.”

Ohio Announces Vaccine Lottery

Several states and cities across the country have been rolling out different incentives to help boost COVID-19 vaccination rates. Some are offering $100 savings bonds, $50 prepaid cards, and even free alcohol, but Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine took it a step further Wednesday, saying that five people in his state will each win $1 million for getting vaccinated.

DeWine said that the lottery program, named “Ohio Vax-a-Million,” will be open to residents 18 and older who receive at least one dose. Drawings start May 26 and winners will be pulled from the state’s voter registration database.

The Ohio Lottery will conduct the drawings, but the money will come from existing federal coronavirus relief funds.

Younger people will also have a chance to win something. That’s because DeWine said five vaccinated people between 12 and 17 years old will be eligible to win a full four-year scholarship to one of the state’s public universities under a similar lottery program. The portal to sign up for that opens May 18.

DeWine Defends Lottery

Reactions to the giveaway have been mixed. Some echoed statements from State Rep. Emilia Sykes, the top House Democrat, who said, “Using millions of dollars in relief funds in a drawing is a grave misuse of money that could be going to respond to this ongoing crisis.”

DeWine, however, seems to have anticipated pushback like this.

“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,'” he tweeted. “But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to COVID-19.”

Despite some backlash, a ton of other people have applauded the plan as a smart way to encourage vaccinations across all age groups. So far, about 36%of Ohio’s population has been fully vaccinated — compared with 35% nationally. 

Still, the number of people seeking vaccines has dropped in recent weeks, with an average of about 16,500 starting the process last week, which is down from figures above 80,000 in April. 

See what others are saying: (AP News) (NPR)(The New York Times)

Continue Reading

U.S.

Derek Chauvin Qualifies for Longer Sentence Over George Floyd’s Murder, Judge Rules

Published

on

  • A judge overseeing the trial of Derek Chauvin ruled Wednesday that there were enough aggravating factors in the former officer’s murder of George Floyd that could qualify him for a longer prison sentence.
  • While Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges he faced, Minnesota state law only allows him to receive prison time for the most serious charge of second-degree homicide, which has a max sentence of 40 years but a recommended sentence of 12.5 years for people with no criminal history.
  • The judge ultimately agreed that Chauvin qualifies for longer sentencing because prosecutors had proven that he abused his power as a police officer, acted “particularly cruel” to Floyd, and committed the crime in front of children with at least three other people.
  • Chauvin is currently scheduled to be sentenced on June 25.

Judge Cahill Rules on Aggravating Factors

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill, who oversaw the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, has ruled that there were aggravating factors in the former Minneapolis police officer’s murder of George Floyd, thus qualifying him for a longer sentence.

While the jury found Chauvin guilty on all three charges he was facing, Minnesota law says that he will only face sentencing for the most serious charge, which in this case is second-degree murder.

That charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years, but state sentencing guidelines recommend 12 and a half years for someone with no criminal history. Prosecutors asked Judge Cahill for what’s called an “upward sentencing departure,” arguing that there were five factors that should open Chauvin up to a maximum sentence.

In a ruling made public Wednesday, Cahill wrote that prosecutors had proved beyond a reasonable doubt four of those five factors.

In his decision, Cahill agreed with the prosecutor’s claim that Chauvin had “abused his position of trust and authority” as a police officer and that he “knew from his training and experience” that the neck restraint he used Floyd in “danger of positional asphyxia.” 

Cahill also supported the argument that the former officer had been “particularly cruel” to Floyd, who he wrote “was begging for his life and obviously terrified by the knowledge he was likely to die,” adding that Chauvin “remained indifferent to Mr. Floyd’s pleas.”

The third and fourth aggravating factors that the judge sided with prosecutors on were that Chauvin had committed the crime as part of a group of three or more people and that he perpetrated that crime in front of children.

Notably, Cahill did reject the fifth aggravating factor brought by prosecutors, who argued Floyd was “particularly vulnerable” because he was handcuffed and held facedown on the street. The judge said that prosecutors did not prove that argument, writing that Floyd had been able to resist arrest before he was put on the ground.

Additional Charges

The ruling comes just a few days after Chauvin and the three other officers were indicted on federal civil rights charges by a grand jury.

Chauvin was also indicted on a second, separate federal charge related to the arrest of a 14-year-old boy in September 2017, during which he allegedly held the boy by the neck and hit him with a flashlight repeatedly.

According to reports, if he is convicted, he would likely serve the federal sentence at the same time as his state one. However, the federal charges may impact the pending August trial of the three other officers, who have been charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

Separately, last week, Chauvin’s defense attorney filed a motion for a new trial, alleging misconduct by the judge, prosecutors, and jurors, signaling additional continued litigation.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (CNN)

Continue Reading

U.S.

Teens Attack and Rob 80-Year-Old Asian Man in Northern California

Published

on

  • Viral surveillance footage shows an 80-year-old Asian man in the San Francisco Bay area being assaulted and robbed on Saturday by suspects who police say are teenagers.
  • Police believe the suspects are as young as 16, and at one point, one can be heard in the video giggling from the getaway car as the victim cries for help. 
  • The news comes after the nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate released data showing that reports of anti-Asian hate incidents in the U.S. jumped by almost 74% year-over-year in March.

Suspect Laughs at Victim During Attack

Surveillance video going viral on social media captured an 80-year-old Asian man in the San Francisco Bay area getting assaulted and robbed on Saturday by suspects who police believe are teenagers.

The full video is extremely distressing. It shows the man getting knocked to the ground, trying to fight off his attackers as he cries for help. To make matters worse, at one point, high-pitched giggles can be heard coming from another teen in the background. That person appears to be inside a getaway car nearby.

The victim was robbed of a watch and sustained minor injuries. Police have also said that a vehicle similar to the one used in this case was spotted at a strong-armed robbery in a nearby San Leandro area less than two hours later, where another victim was robbed of her purse.

Police believe the suspects are as young as 16.

Surge of Crimes Against Asians in U.S.

This is just the latest violent attack against an Asian person making headlines since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, reports emerged regarding two Asian women who were attacked with a hammer in Times Square by someone demanding they remove their masks. Two other Asian women were recently stabbed while waiting for the bus in downtown San Francisco.

The San Francisco-based nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate released data Thursday saying that reports of anti-Asian hate incidents in the U.S. jumped by almost 74% year-over-year in March — with Chinese people as victims in 44% of these acts.

Vancouver Sees Massive Influx of Anti-Asian Hate

While anti-Asian hate crimes have surged in the U.S., the situation may be worse in Canada, specifically in Vancouver. Around 42% of people in Vancouver are of Asian descent and at least 25% speak Chinese — making it the most heavily Asian city in North America.

Still, it witnessed a 717% year-over-year surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020, according to the Vancouver Police Department. Bloomberg even dubbed it the Anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America, saying more anti-Asian hate crimes were reported in the city of 700,000 people last year than in the 10 largest U.S. cities combined.

That’s part of why people all across the city are participating in more organized action to speak out against anti-Asian hate. For instance, several rallies took place in Vancouver Monday to mark the National Day of Action Against Anti-Asian Racism.

See what others are saying: (ABC 7) (Bloomberg) (Forbes)

Continue Reading