“I stand by my report.”
A former police officer who arrested Beto O’Rourke after a drunken car crash in 1998 responded on Wednesday to the Democratic presidential candidate’s denials that he tried to flee the scene.
Richard Carrera, the investigating El Paso officer, doesn’t remember the specifics of the night, but he told the Texas Tribune that he has “no doubt” his account at the time was accurate.
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The retired sergeant who signed Carrera’s report, Gary Hargrove, said he too had forgotten about the night but was certain O’Rourke had acted as described.
“He did something to lead the officers to believe he was trying to get away,” he said. “What they put down, I believed them.”
O’Rourke spokesman Chris Evans stood by the candidate’s longstanding version of events.
“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,” he said. “This has been widely and repeatedly reported on.”
In the 12-page incident report from September of 1998, Carrera wrote that he was dispatched at about 3 a.m. to Interstate-10 for a “motor vehicle accident.” An unnamed witness said he saw O’Rourke’s Volvo heading toward New Mexico “at a high rate of speed.”
O’Rourke’s car “lost control moments later and struck a truck traveling in the same direction,” which led it to cross the center median and come to a stop facing the other direction, the report continued. The “defendant/driver then attempted to leave the scene,” it said.
According to the report, O’Rourke had “glossy eyes” and his breath smelled like alcohol. Carrera said he couldn’t understand O’Rourke “due to slurred speech,” and when he asked him to exit the vehicle, he almost “almost fell to the floor.”
O’Rourke was arrested for DWI, but not for fleeing the scene, and taken to the police station. Despite telling officers that he only had two beers, he registered well over Texas’ .10 legal blood alcohol limit, at .136 and .134.
The revelation came as O’Rourke – a former Texas congressman who narrowly lost a 2018 Senate bid – has fought to maintain his status as a Democratic “golden boy” in an increasingly crowded presidential field.
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