A Los Angeles Police Department sergeant and commander who were allegedly found intoxicated inside an unmarked police vehicle in April pleaded not guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor charges.
Sgt. James Kelly, 47, was charged Friday with one misdemeanor count each of driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage and driving with a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content, along with an allegation that his blood alcohol concentration was 0.20 percent or more.
LAPD Cmdr. Nicole Mehringer, 47, is charged with one misdemeanor count of public intoxication.
The pleas were entered by attorneys on behalf of Kelly and Mehringer, who did not appear in a Glendale courtroom for the arraignment. An Oct. 17 pretrial hearing was set.
Outside court, Kelly’s attorney, David Kestenbaum, told reporters his client has enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous, calling the arrest a “wake-up call.”
“So when somebody does or has an incident and then takes control of their life back from the alcohol, then you see progress in that person, and that’s what I hope to show,” he said.
Kelly and Mehringer were found inside an unmarked police vehicle near Lomita Avenue and Brand Boulevard in Glendale early April 27. A witness shot video of the scene that was aired by Fox11, showing Glendale police helping Mehringer, who tried to hide her face with her shirt, to a curb where she sat quietly.
The video also showed police administering field-sobriety tests to Kelly, who repeatedly stumbles and struggles to walk a straight line. The witness told Fox11 Kelly had been driving the car, which struck a parked Mercedes. The witness said it took Glendale police about 20 minutes to revive the seemingly unconscious pair inside the car and escort them out of the vehicle, Fox11 reported.
Kelly and Mehringer were both assigned to the LAPD’s Employee Relations Group. Both were released from custody later that morning.
“Both have been relieved of duty without pay pending disciplinary action,” according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Then-LAPD Chief Charlie Beck released a statement saying he had “been briefed on the circumstances of these arrests and am extremely concerned about the allegations.” He said then that the LAPD had initiated personnel investigations that “can result in serious consequences.”
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