The Texas police officer who arrested Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D-TX) for driving drunk in 1998 still believes the 2020 presidential candidate attempted to flee the scene of the ordeal, according to a report.
Now-former Anthony Police Department officer Richard Carrera, who arrested O’Rourke, along with his sergeant, Gary Hargrove, told the Texas Tribune Wednesday that they still maintain that the police report detailing the 20-year-old incident is accurate.
“I believe we have contradicting stories here,” Carrera acknowledged the Texas Tribune, before adding “I stand by my report.”
After giving the police report yet another read, Carrera said he has “no doubt” that O’Rourke tried to flee the scene in his Volvo.
The Texas Tribune reports:
Hargrove, 71, oversaw the crash scene but does not remember being there. However, he said he believes what his officers told him about the two-vehicle collision that occurred in Anthony, a tiny town near the Texas-New Mexico border west of El Paso.
Hargrove said the report, which he reread after the Houston Chroniclepublished it last year, shows O’Rourke “struck the [other] car from the rear and he ended up in the median pointed the wrong way, and he took that as his chance to get away.”
“He did something to lead the officers to believe that he was trying to get away,” Hargrove said. “What they put down, I believed them.”
“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 spokesman Chris Evans told the Texas Tribune. “This has been widely and repeatedly reported on.”
Last year, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News obtained copies of state and local police reports pertaining to the arrest. The documents state O’Rourke was found intoxicated after losing control of his vehicle on Interstate 10 and hitting a truck. Nobody was hurt in the accident in Anthony, Texas, about 20 miles from El Paso. A witness told police that O’Rourke tried to drive away, but the witness stopped him until officers arrived, the documents show. The witness also said that O’Rourke had been driving at “a high rate of speed.”
O’Rourke has talked about the 1998 arrest while campaigning to unseat incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). However, news stories about the arrest earlier in the campaign did not include details such as the crash and the reported attempt to flee.
“I drove drunk and was arrested for a DWI in 1998. As I’ve publicly discussed over the last 20 years, I made a serious mistake for which there is no excuse,” O’Rourke said in a statement after reports broke about the arrest.
O’Rourke had just turned 26 when the arrest happened. He did a court-ordered diversion program and a drunken-driving charge was dismissed. According to police, O’Rourke recorded a 0.136 and 0.134 on breathalyzers, above a blood-alcohol level of 0.10, Texas’ legal limit for driving at the time.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.