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Bodycam evidence reveals a politician from North Dakota made homophobic slurs to an officer during a DUI stop



Bismarck, North Dakota – Body camera footage reveals that a congressman from North Dakota who is on a subcommittee that deals with law enforcement legislation made anti-immigrant and homophobic comments to a police officer who apprehended him for suspected drunk driving.

Nico Rios, a Williston Republican state representative, was likewise accused of declining to submit to a chemical test. State law classifies both that and the charge of driving while intoxicated as misdemeanors. Rios’ pretrial session in municipal court is set for February 5.

He was stopped by Williston police on December 15 for failing to stay in his lane, as per the officer’s report. The officer wrote that Rios “was verbally abusive, homophobic, racially abusive and discriminatory” toward him “for the entire duration of the incident following roadside testing.”

The homophobic slurs can be heard in body camera footage. In the recording, Rios also said he would call the North Dakota attorney general about the situation. He told the officers they would “regret picking on 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 … migrants?”

Asked for comment, Rios replied in an email, “Inebriated or not, my actions and words to law enforcement that night were unacceptable.”

The lawmaker said he was sorry and vowed “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,” he wrote.

Rio claimed he had “only gotten support from my colleagues, although a few have yelled at me for sure I deserved it” and that he was heading out of a Christmas party before the traffic stop.

Rios was chosen to serve in the North Dakota House of Representatives the previous year. He is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which deals with legislation related to law enforcement. In addition, he works as a wireline operator in the oil field, where he performs hydraulic fracturing on wells.

Although he hasn’t viewed the video, Republican House Majority Leader Mike Lefor stated, “I’ve heard enough about it.” He stated that he is “looking at the options that are in front of me” and that he wanted to talk with Rios before making any more comments, but he would not indicate whether or not he is asking Rios to step down.

North Dakota Republican Party Chairwoman Sandi Sanford said in a text message, “We are deeply troubled by Rep. Rios’ dangerous decision to drive while intoxicated and his remarks to law enforcement officers. His behavior does not represent the values of the NDGOP.”

The state’s Democratic Party chair called Rios’ comments “reprehensible.”

The North Dakota House is controlled by Republicans, 82–12.