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LAPD commander and sergeant charged after police say they were drunk in unmarked cruiser

LAPD commander and sergeant charged after police say they were drunk in unmarked cruiser
LAPD Sgt. James Kelly and Cmdr. Nicole Mehringer have been charged in connection with an alcohol-related incident in April in Glendale. (KTLA)

A Los Angeles police commander and a sergeant have been charged in connection with an alcohol-related incident in April in which Glendale police said they found the two intoxicated inside an unmarked police cruiser.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office charged Cmdr. Nicole Mehringer with a single misdemeanor count of public intoxication and Sgt. James Kelly with one count of driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage and one count of driving with a 0.08% blood-alcohol content.

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The commander and sergeant were “relieved of duty without pay since July 11, 2018, pending a disciplinary investigation,” LAPD Capt. Patricia Sandoval said.

Prosecutors in the Aug. 31 criminal filings said Kelly, who was behind the wheel of the police Dodge Charger, had a blood-alcohol level that was 0.20% or more — more than twice the legal limit under California law. The two are expected to make their first court appearances Wednesday.

Mehringer and Kelly were taken into custody about 1:45 a.m. April 27 near Lomita Avenue and Brand Boulevard in Glendale after officers saw their car had “come to rest” against another vehicle, Glendale police said. No one was hurt, but officers suspected the two had been drinking, Glendale Police Sgt. Dan Suttles said.

According to two law enforcement sources who were not authorized to discuss the incident, Mehringer and Kelly were passed out inside the vehicle when officers arrived. Officers determined that Kelly was under the influence, while Mehringer, who also showed signs of intoxication, became belligerent. It took officers about 20 minutes to get them out of the police cruiser, which had rolled into a silver Mercedes-Benz.

A video of the incident obtained by KTTV Channel 11 showed Mehringer being pulled from the car with her hands behind her back and her shirt pulled up. The video also showed Kelly, dressed in a blue dress shirt, struggling to stand and walk a straight line. At one point, Glendale officers have to keep him from falling.

Mehringer, who is identified on the Los Angeles Police Department website as Nicole Alberca, and Kelly had been assigned to the department’s employee relations group at the time of their arrest.

Mehringer, 47, and Kelly, 46, spent a little over three hours in custody before they were released, according to jail records. Mehringer was promoted to commander in 2017 by then-Chief Charlie Beck and was considered a rising star inside the department.

Beck confirmed that an internal investigation was underway and said he was “extremely concerned about the allegations.”

3 p.m.: This story was updated with details about the commander and sergeant being placed on unpaid leave in July.

This article was originally published at 12:35 p.m.

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