Anthony, TX – The police officer who arrested Presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke for drunk driving in 1998 stands by his report that the candidate tried to leave the scene of a crash he had caused.
O’Rourke was arrested for burglary and DWI in separate incidents in the late 1990s.
The burglary victim, the University of Texas, eventually declined to press charges, and O’Rourke completed a court-recommended DWI program in order to have the DWI dismissed, according to Politifact.
"Beto's DWI is something he has long publicly and openly addressed over the last 20 years at town halls, on the debate stage, during interviews and in Op-Eds, calling it a serious mistake for which there is no excuse," O'Rourke campaign spokesman Chris Evans told The Texas Tribune. "This has been widely and repeatedly reported on."
While O’Rourke has admitted to driving drunk when he was 26 and said he cannot defend his actions, the Presidential candidate has repeatedly denied that he tried to flee the scene.
But now the former members of the Anthony Police Department who wrote and signed the police report have stated they have no doubt the description of events in the Sept. 27, 1998 report is accurate, The Texas Tribune reported.
“I believe we have contradicting stories here,” Former Anthony Police Officer Richard Carrera said. “I stand by my report.”
Carrera was the officer who responded to the scene of O’Rourke’s wreck at 3 a.m. and arrested him, according to The Texas Tribune
His supervisor at the time, former Anthony Police Sergeant Gary Hargrove, oversaw the crash scene.
Neither former law enforcement officer specifically remembered the scene or arresting O’Rourke, but both said they stand by the narrative that was in the police report that was submitted, The Texas Tribune reported.
In the report, an unnamed witness who was driving an ambulance when the wreck happened told police that he witnessed O’Rourke driving fast and crashing into a truck.
The police report said the witness told police that the driver attempted to leave the scene and that he’d turned on the overhead lights on his vehicle to try to get O’Rourke to stop, The Texas Tribune reported.
When then-Officer Carrera arrived on the scene and asked O’Rourke if he was injured, the report said his response was unintelligible “due to slurred speech.”
The officer noted O’Rourke’s “glossy eyes” and having smelled alcohol on his breath in the report.
He wrote in the report that when he asked O’Rourke to get out of the vehicle, he “almost fell to the floor,” The Texas Tribune reported.
O’Rourke was transported to a police substation where he failed a breathalyzer test after blowing first .136 and then .134, well above what was then the legal limit of .10, according to the police report.
The Texas Tribune attempted to track down the ambulance driver who witnessed the wreck but was unable to find a name in the police report.
Former Sgt. Hargrove said there should be an accident report in the file that would have detailed that information and would have been forwarded to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
However, the current Anthony police chief, Carlos Enriquez, said no such document had been found in the police department’s files, according to The Texas Tribune.
Nor could the Texas Department of Public Safety locate the accident report, but they cited the expired retention period for such old files as the reason it was missing.
O’Rourke’s drunk driving arrest was not the only time the Presidential candidate tried to run from the police, The Texas Tribune reported.
A May 1995 police report from O’Rourke’s burglary arrest by the University of Texas at El Paso Police Department said that Democratic hopeful fled police with two other suspects when they triggered an alarm and were caught breaking into a facilities management building.
During his 2018 attempt to unseat U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), O’Rourke was extremely critical of law enforcement.
When he was asked about criminal justice reform, he referenced the chain gangs of the pre-civil war era, and then said that the same problems existed in law enforcement today.
“That injustice, too many more people here that I know of firsthand, continues to persist today,” O’Rourke said.
“That system of suspecting somebody, solely based on the color of their skin,” he continued. “Searching that person solely based on the color of their skin. Stopping that person solely based on the color of their skin. Shooting that person solely based on the color of their skin. Throwing the book at that person and letting them rot behind bars solely based on the color of their skin is why some have called this, I think it is an apt description, the ‘new Jim Crow.’”
His remarks drew the ire of Texas law enforcement officials.
“First of all, it doesn’t surprise me. Anybody who’s been arrested as many times as Robert O’Rourke’s been arrested may have some ill will towards the police,” Denton County Sheriff Tracy Murphree told FOX News.
“You know his rhetoric is divisive, it’s insulting, but most of all it’s dangerous,” Sheriff Murphree told FOX News.
Sheriff Murphree said that O’Rourke’s rhetoric harkened back to the Obama era.
“You know there’s been a war on police officers for the last several years. And when someone that has as many followers as Mr. O’Rourke has, and the context that he puts police officers in – it makes it dangerous for citizens and police officers,” the sheriff said.
The sheriff pointed out that the Jim Crow laws O’Rourke referred to were written and passed by Democrats. He said the candidate’s characterization was insulting to both police and citizens.
O’Rourke’s campaign denied that he’d been talking about police officers when referring to the Jim Crow laws, FOX News reported.