North Dakota GOP lawmaker scrutinized for slurs at DUI stop

North Dakota legislator, Rep. Nico Rios, is under pressure to resign following an incident when he was stopped for traffic violation, uttered homophobic and anti-immigrant comments, and was arrested for drunk driving. The incident was followed by charges of him being verbally abusive, racist, discriminatory, and homophobic. Mike Lefor, the Republican House Majority Leader, called on Rios to resign, referring to the police report on the incident.

Republican leaders urged Rios, accused of using foul and discriminatory language during a traffic stop incident where he was arrested for drunk driving, to resign. Lefor asked on Tuesday for Rios’ resignation and referred to the police officer’s account of the event where Rios is described as verbally abusive, homophobic, racist, discriminatory, and indicated Rios tried to exploit his status to escape the law and arrest.

Lefor stated that such behavior has no place in their party or legislature, while acknowledging the fact that people make errors, he highlighted the comments made by Rios and his defiance of law enforcement as unacceptable.

Without providing any immediate comments, Rios responded to an email asking for his remarks on the issue. His lawyer did not return a phone message.

The North Dakota Republican Party’s Chairwoman, Sandi Sanford, was vocal about her disappointment in Rios’ actions and words. She stated that they were not in keeping with the decency expected from anyone, let alone a public representative, and that he showed disrespect toward the community he was supposed to represent, also violating the Republican party’s core values. She also mentioned that he disrespected law enforcement officials.

Police body camera footage reveals Rios insulting the officer, questioning his English accent, and launching homophobic slurs and anti-immigrant remarks. He also stated that he was planning on informing the North Dakota attorney general about the situation. He arrogantly commented that the police would regret treating him this way once they found out who he is.

Rios was reportedly leaving a Christmas party when he was stopped for a routine traffic check on December 15. He faced misdemeanor charges for drunk driving and refusal to comply with a chemical test. A pretrial conference is scheduled for him on February 5.

Rios was elected as a representative of the House of Representatives in 2022. He is a part of the House Judiciary Committee, a committee that deals with law enforcement legislation. Republicans, at present, dominate the North Dakota House with 82 out of 94 seats.

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