North Dakota GOP lawmaker arrested for DUI exposed by body cam footage for offensive verbal abuse against officers

December 24, 2023
by
Ben Marquis

The consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol tends to bring out the worst in some people, and that was made evident in the recent arrest of a Republican lawmaker in North Dakota, according to the New York Post.

Recently released bodycam footage of the incident that occurred last week showed that Republican North Dakota State Rep. Nico Rios was "verbally abusive" toward the officers who arrested him for driving under the influence, including the use of "homophobic" and racial slurs and threats against their jobs.

Arrested for DUI

The Bismarck Tribune reported Friday on the release of bodycam footage from the Dec. 15 incident in which Rep. Rios was described in the police report as having been "verbally abusive, homophobic, racially abusive and discriminatory toward Officer Welch for the entire duration of the incident following roadside testing."

Officer Welsh, a U.S. citizen who was born in England and still retains an English accent, bore the brunt of Rios' fury at being pulled over and arrested for driving drunk, as the lawmaker reamed the officer for being a foreigner arresting an American while his home country suffered immigration and crime-related issues of its own.

Rios was ultimately charged with two misdemeanors, including DUI and "refusing to provide a chemical test" -- he refused to submit to a breathalyzer test -- and was also cited for having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle.

Profanity-laced tirade toward arresting officers

According to the Tribune, Rios initially handed officers his business card when asked to provide his license and registration, then proceeded to fail a series of roadside sobriety tests during which he reportedly grew increasingly "frustrated" and began to threaten the officers that they were "going to regret picking on me" once he had alerted Republican state Attorney General Drew Wrigley of the supposed mistreatment.

He went on to inform the officers that he only lived a couple of blocks away and asked if he could be allowed to drive his truck home, but the Post noted that he called one of the officers a "f--king f--got" when that request was denied and he was told that he'd be taken to jail instead.

That prompted a furious and profanity-laced tirade from Rios that continued as he was placed in the back of a squad car and transported to be booked for his offenses.

Rios has issued two statements of apology

Just a few days after his arrest, but before the bodycam footage was released, Rep. Rios posted a statement to social media in which he apologized for having had a "few too many drinks" and then driving home, a "mistake" for which he was "deeply embarrassed" and for which he expressed how he was "deeply sorry and regretful for my actions."

That statement obviously didn't reveal the full extent of his behavior that was later exposed by the bodycam footage, thus Rios issued another more fulsome apologetic statement to the Tribune for its report.

"Inebriated or not my actions and words to law enforcement that night were absolutely unacceptable. Just two cop doing their jobs keeping the community safe when they ran into me on a night I decided to act like a dummy. They did nothing to deserve any sort of disrespect," Rios said. "I owe it to myself, my district, and everyone and I vow to make sure this never happens again. Moving forward after this night I feel like I have to emphasize my complete and total commitment to supporting Law Enforcement. I messed up big time and I am truly sorry."

Denounced by Democrats and fellow Republicans

How that apology plays with others remains to be seen, as the Tribune reported that both Democrats and his fellow Republicans denounced his criminal actions and offensive behavior toward the arresting officers.

Andrew Nyhus, executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party, told the outlet, "We are deeply troubled by Rep. Rios' dangerous decision to drive while intoxicated and his remarks to law enforcement officers. Clearly, his behavior does not represent the values of the NDGOP."

North Dakota Democrats, meanwhile, suggested his resignation was in order, as state party chair Adam Goldwyn said in a statement, "Calling police officers homophobic slurs is reprehensible. It used to be that when public servants disgraced themselves, they resigned rather than bring shame upon those they represent," and, after bashing the GOP with other accusations, added, "it seems the Republican Party no longer has a sense of shame. The Democrats are committed to governing with honor and dignity for all of us."

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