Nathan Meier promoted with Aurora police after being drunk while on duty in 2019

An Aurora police officer who was on duty and drunk when he passed out while driving his department car in 2019 has been promoted.

Nathan Meier was promoted to detective on Dec. 24 after testing for the post in November, department spokesman Joe Moylan said. The position pays $110,399, a $10,000 raise from his previous job.

The promotion, first reported by CBS4, comes nearly four years after Meier’s drunken-driving incident, which brought international attention to the department as well as condemnation of how the department’s leadership handled the case. The controversy marred the final months of former Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz’s tenure and prompted his second-in-command to renounce his plans to serve as interim police chief and retire instead.

Last year, Meier participated in a competitive process outlined by the Civil Service Commission, which oversees hiring, firing and promotions in the department, Moylan said.

He was required by the commission’s rules to wait two years after being demoted to try for a promotion.

Meier was armed and on duty on March 29, 2019, when he passed out while driving the unmarked department-issued car on East Mississippi Avenue near Buckley Air Force Base. The car was running and in gear with Meier’s foot on the brake.

Meier later told internal investigators that he was blackout drunk at the time.

He was demoted and suspended without pay after Metz overruled an internal investigation that recommended Meier be fired. Aurora police leaders did not pursue a criminal investigation of Meier’s drunken driving despite multiple officers on the scene reporting that they smelled alcohol on Meier and in the car.

Prosecutors said they were never alerted to the incident and expressed frustration that Aurora police failed to conduct an investigation. An external review of the incident found police leadership made “significant errors of judgment” at nearly every stage.

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