North Dakota leaders urge Republican lawmaker to resign after homophobic rant in DUI traffic stop

Bodycam footage of Republican Nico Rios.

North Dakota leaders are urging Republican lawmaker Nico Rios to resign after he was recorded screaming homophobic and racist abuse during a DUI arrest.

State lawmaker Rios of Williston was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, after being pulled over on 15 December by two police officers. 

During the traffic stop, in which police questioned him about a failure to stay in his lane, Rios was captured on bodycam footage refusing to take a breathalyser test and subsequently unleashing a tirade of bigoted remarks towards the officers.

Since the incident Rios has apologised to North Dakotans and the state GOP. He said he was “deeply embarrassed” by his own behaviour.

But his apology hasn’t deterred North Dakota House majority leader Mike Lefor from leading calls for Rios to resign on Tuesday (26 December). 

“There is no room in the legislature, or our party, for this behaviour,” Lefor said, according to the Associated Press.

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“I understand people make mistakes, but his comments and defiance to law enforcement are beyond the pale. In addition, any lawmaker attempting to use his or her elected position to threaten anyone or skirt the law is completely unacceptable.”

North Dakota Republican Party chairwoman Sandi Sanford also claimed Rios’ actions “fall short of the basic decency we expect from any of our neighbours. 

She added: “He endangered the community he was elected to serve and disrespected peace officers. This violates our core values as Republicans.”

On X/Twitter, Rios, who represents District 23, shared that he has heard calls for his resignation and is “seriously mulling all aspects of my future”.

He admitted he has an issue with “alcoholism” and wrote that he is getting the help he needs. 

Rios asked for support while he gets sober and repairs the “damage” done. 

Rios is scheduled for a pretrial conference in court on 5 February, 2024.

Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a hate crime is urged to call the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit the True Vision website. In an emergency, always dial 999.