BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota lawmaker who serves on a panel that handles law enforcement legislation made homophobic and anti-immigrant remarks toward a police officer who arrested him on drunken driving charges. Was, as the body camera footage shows.
Wilson's Republican state representative, Nico Rios, was also charged with refusing to provide chemical testing. Both that and the drunken driving charge are misdemeanors under state law. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for Feb. 5 in Rios Municipal Court.
Williston police pulled him over on Dec. 15 for failing to maintain his lane, according to an officer's report. The officer wrote that Rios was "verbally abusive, homophobic, racially abusive and discriminatory" toward him during the entire duration of the incident following the roadside test.
Homophobic slurs can be heard in body camera footage requested and provided by The Associated Press. In the recording, Rios also said he would call the North Dakota Attorney General about the situation. He told the officers that he would "regret electing me because you don't know who I am…."
He also cursed while riding in the patrol car, and questioned the officer's English accent, asking him, "How many of your... friends and family members have been... brutalized and terrorized... by immigrants?" " Forum News Service first reported on Rios' comments.
Asked for comment, Rios replied in an email, "My actions and words to law enforcement that night, whether intoxicated or not, were absolutely unacceptable."
The MLA said he was sorry and vowed to ensure that this never happens again.
"Moving forward after this night, I feel I need to emphasize my full commitment to supporting law enforcement," he wrote.
Ryo said he was leaving a Christmas party before the traffic stop, and that he "only received support from my colleagues, although some yelled at me that I definitely deserve."
Rios was elected to the North Dakota House of Representatives last year. He sits on the House Judiciary Committee, a panel that handles law enforcement legislation. He is also a wireline operator, an oil field position and is involved in hydraulic fracturing of wells.
Republican House Majority Leader Mike LeFore said he had not seen the video, "but I've heard a lot about it." He did not say whether he was asking Rios to resign, but said he was "considering the options before me" and wanted to talk to Rios before commenting further.
“We are deeply troubled by Representative Rios' dangerous decision to drive under the influence and his comments toward law enforcement officers,” North Dakota Republican Party Chairwoman Sandy Sanford said in a text message. “His behavior does not represent the values of the NDGOP.”
The chairman of the state Democratic Party called Rios' comments "reprehensible."
Republicans control the North Dakota House, 82–12.
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