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LAPD commander charged with public intoxication should be fired, disciplinary board rules

LAPD Sgt. James Kelly and Cmdr. Nicole Mehringer have been charged in connection with an alcohol-re
LAPD Sgt. James Kelly, left, and Cmdr. Nicole Mehringer were charged in connection with an alcohol-related incident in April in Glendale.
(KTLA )

A Los Angeles police commander who was charged with public intoxication after an altercation with Glendale police in April should lose her job, a disciplinary board decided Tuesday.

The ruling on the dismissal of Nicole Mehringer, made by a three-person LAPD Board of Rights panel, must be approved by Chief Michel Moore.

Mehringer’s attorney, Brad Gage, said his client is willing to be demoted one rank to captain. But if Moore fires her, he said, she will likely sue, challenging the evidence used in the disciplinary proceeding.

Mehringer may also file a separate lawsuit alleging she was treated more harshly than male LAPD officers who committed drinking-related offenses, Gage said.

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“A one-day event shouldn’t negate 22 years of protecting and serving our community,” Gage said. “It’s just not fair.”

Mehringer and a subordinate, Sgt. James Kelly, were arrested by Glendale police officers who found them in an unmarked police Dodge Charger that had “come to rest” against a parked vehicle around 1 a.m. on April 27, according to Glendale police.

No one was hurt, but the officers suspected the two had been drinking.

According to two law enforcement sources who were not authorized to discuss the incident, the two were passed out inside the police car.

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Officers determined that Kelly, who was behind the wheel, was under the influence. Mehringer, who also showed signs of intoxication, became belligerent, and it took the officers about 20 minutes to get them out of the car.

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 struggling to stand and walk a straight line.

Gage said Mehringer cursed at the officers because they pulled out shotguns and threatened to pepper spray her.

In August, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office charged Mehringer with a single misdemeanor count of public intoxication and 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.

Prosecutors said Kelly had a blood-alcohol level that was 0.20% or more — more than twice the legal limit under California law.

Both Mehringer and Kelly have pleaded not guilty.

Mehringer, 47, who is identified on the LAPD website as Nicole Alberca, ran the department’s employee relations group, which handles contract negotiations, grievances and other union-related issues.

She was promoted to commander in 2017 by Chief Charlie Beck and was considered a rising star.

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Kelly, 47, also worked in the employee relations group. He is scheduled for a Board of Rights hearing in March, said his attorney, Michael Williamson.

Beck had recommended that Kelly be fired, based on the Glendale case and another DUI from 15 years ago. Williamson said the former chief’s recommendation is “wholly inappropriate” because several other LAPD officers kept their jobs after incurring DUIs just a few years apart.

Both Kelly and Mehringer have been relieved of duty without pay since July 11.

On Wednesday, LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein said the department could not comment on Mehringer’s case because “this is a personnel matter with the potential for litigation.”

cindy.chang@latimes.com

For more news on the Los Angeles Police Department, follow me on Twitter: @cindychangLA


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