Image Source: Williston, North Dakota Police Department

Does not plan to resign after questionable remarks


The North Dakota Republican Party said Friday it is “deeply troubled” by a Williston lawmaker’s behavior toward law enforcement during a recent drunk driving arrest. Rep. Nico Rios berated an officer and used homophobic and racist language during a Dec. 15 arrest in Williston, police bodycam video of the incident shows.

Rios, a first-term Republican lawmaker, also made several references to his position as a legislator and attempted to give officers his card rather than his vehicle registration. He told officers he planned to call the attorney general.

“You guys are going to regret picking on me because you don’t know who the f– I am,” Rios said during the exchange. On Friday, Rios issued a statement apologizing for his behavior and pledging to support law enforcement. He said he has no plans to resign.

“Inebriated or not my actions and words to law enforcement that night were absolutely unacceptable,” Rios said in an email to the North Dakota Monitor. “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.”

A police report states Rios “was verbally abusive, homophobic, racially abusive and discriminatory toward Officer (Alexander) Welch for the entire duration of the incident following road side testing.”

Rios used expletives and repeatedly asked the officer about his English accent, the video shows.

Police Officer Welch sees an open bottle of Corona Beer in the back seat of Rios’ car.

“We are deeply troubled by Rep. Rios’ dangerous decision to drive while intoxicated and his remarks to law enforcement officers,” said a statement provided by NDGOP Executive Director Andrew Nyhus. “Clearly, his behavior does not represent the values of the NDGOP.”

The behavior of Rios was first reported Thursday by Rob Port of Forum Communications, which published the bodycam video. 

Late Thursday, North Dakota Democrats condemned his behavior 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,” North Dakota Democratic-NPL Chair Adam Goldwyn said.

Rep. Nico Rios, R-Williston, talks to officers from the back of a police vehicle Dec. 15, 2023, during a DUI arrest in Williston. (Photo captured from Williston Police Department bodycam video)

Rios is scheduled to appear in Williston Municipal Court on Jan. 4, according to his arrest report, which listed driving under the influence, refusal to provide a chemical test and open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle as offenses. 

In a statement, Rios said he would seek resources to overcome his “personal issues” so he can continue to serve District 23.

Rios ran unopposed in the 2022 general election, winning one of the District 23 House seats, along with Rep. Scott Dyk, R-Williston. 

His committee assignments for the 2023 legislative session included the Judiciary Committee. 

His Nico for North Dakota campaign website includes the statement: “Sadly, we’ve seen out-of-control crime and chaos in cities across America, woke indoctrination in public schools, and people’s dreams and livelihoods constantly crushed by destructive leftist policies. As your representative, I will not allow that to happen here in North Dakota.”

Rios was just over a half-mile away from his Williston apartment when he was pulled over. He said he had been at a Christmas party at Pete’s Brewhaha in Williston. 

Rios said he was born and raised on the southside of Chicago and returned there for holidays. He moved to North Dakota 10 years ago to work in the oilfield. 

NOTE: Rios is on North Dakota’s House Judiciary Committee that handles law enforcement legislation that impacts the very officers Rios berated during his arrest.

This North Dakota Monitor article is republished by SyndicatedNews.NET with permission under Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.