Police Officers Stand By O'Rourke Arrest Report

Beto O'Rourke
Beto O'Rourke / Getty Images
April 24, 2019

Richard Carrera, the former police officer who arrested Beto O'Rourke for driving drunk in 1998, and his then-supervisor, Gary Hargrove, are standing by their report on O'Rourke attempting to leave the scene of the wreck he caused.

While O'Rourke, a former Texas congressman and a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, has admitted he was intoxicated and said there are no justifications for his actions, he has repeatedly denied that he tried to flee the scene of the wreck, according to the Texas Tribune.

Carrera and Hargrove both admit they don't specifically recall the night in question, over 20 years ago. But they told the Texas Tribune they have no doubts about the report they compiled and signed, saying they believe it's accurate.

"I believe we have contradicting stories here," said Carrera, 49, who arrested the 26-year-old O'Rourke and gave him a breathalyzer test at the police station. "I stand by my report." He added later he has "no doubt that he tried to leave the scene."

Hargrove, 71, does not remember being there, but he said he trusts what his officers told him about the two-vehicle collision near the Texas-New Mexico border west of El Paso. Hargrove said he reread the report last year after the Houston Chronicle published it last year. The report 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."

Until the officers spoke to the Texas Tribune, O'Rourke was the only person at the scene of the wreck to speak out publicly about what happened the night of the accident, the Texas Tribune reported.

O’Rourke told Vanity Fair he had been drinking in El Paso — Jameson whiskey with his father, the former county judge of El Paso County — and later with a high school friend. He was taking his date, identified only as Michelle in the article, back home to Las Cruces, New Mexico, when the crash occurred.

During last year's Texas Tribune Festival, O'Rourke said he reached out to the woman for the first time in more than 15 years and asked her recollection of that evening — and he told Tribune CEO Evan Smith during an onstage interview that she had the same recollection he did.

"She said, 'No, we were in the median of the road. We did not try to flee. I don't know that there was anywhere we could have gone,'" he said. The Tribune has requested an interview with the woman through the O'Rourke campaign.

O'Rourke spokesman Chris Evans downplayed the Texas Tribune report, saying, "This has been widely and repeatedly reported on."

"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," Evans said.

"The police report shows he was arrested for a DWI not for leaving or attempting to leave the scene," Evans added.