The Aurora Police Department in Colorado is facing an independent investigation after one of its officers was found passed out drunk behind the wheel of an unmarked police car, ABC News reports.
Former U.S. Attorney John Walsh is set to lead the investigation, and whatever he finds will be made public. "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," Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly, who asked Walsh to take the role, told the news outlet.
Nathan Meier was found unresponsive on March 29 and several officers who were on the scene said they smelled alcohol on him. He was taken to a nearby hospital. Although he was demoted and was given an unpaid suspension, Meier was allowed to keep his job. The department was accused of giving Meier preferential treatment; there was no DUI investigation or charge against him.
The Aurora Police Department explained why they decided to forgo a DUI investigation in this instance. "Due to an inability to exclude a medical condition and absent confirmatory information, a DUI investigation was not conducted," Aurora Police said, according to ABC News. "No blood test was done since there was no felony committed and a blood draw could not be forced."
Justin Smith, sheriff of nearby Larimer County, called the Aurora Police's excuses "bullshit."
"It was bullshit," Smith told CBS 4. "We need to hold each other accountable. I’m not afraid to speak up. You have to stick up for the right thing."
He wrote a Facebook post last week blasting their decision. "This kind of BS behavior by the officer and lack of accountability from the Aurora Police Department are inexcusable and are a slap in the face to the 14,000 brave and honorable peace officers across the state," he wrote. "The citizens should demand transparency and accountability from the Aurora Police Department on this one. The citizens deserve to know exactly what happened, who failed to act and what was or was not done to those involved in the incident."