SAPD officer with history of road rage incidents charged with DWI, failure to stop and give info

Officer Dezi Rios arrested just before midnight, faces multiple misdemeanors

SAPD Officer Dezi Rios.
SAPD Officer Dezi Rios. (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio police officer involved in a high-profile road rage incident turned shootout in 2018 was arrested overnight on multiple charges connected to a drunk driving crash.

Officer Dezi Rios, 38, faces misdemeanor charges of DWI and failure to stop and provide information, Bexar County District Clerk records show.

Rios was taken into custody in the 17600 block of Bulverde Road just before midnight and formally charged around 4 a.m. Tuesday.

SAPD officer in off-duty shootout involved in 2nd road rage incident months earlier

SAPD officials said Rios was involved in an accident and then fled the scene.

The other driver involved in the crash, a 61-year-old man, followed and confronted Rios, police said. Rios allegedly assaulted the driver during the confrontation.

The officer could be additionally charged with assault later in the investigation, police said.

He is at least the seventh SAPD officer to face criminal charges this year, according to records compiled by the KSAT 12 Defenders.

Rios was shot six times during a shootout outside All-Stars Gentlemen’s Club in May 2018, following a rolling altercation with another driver that started on Interstate 10 East and concluded after both men pulled into the Northwest Side parking lot.

The other driver, DeMontae Walker, was shot eight times during the exchange of gunfire, and was paralyzed from the waist down.

A woman riding in Walker’s car was grazed in the head by a bullet but was able to run from the chaotic scene and seek medical attention inside the club.

Walker, who spent more than three months in the hospital, was originally charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

However, a grand jury in Dec. 2018 declined to indict him.

Rios, who was hospitalized but recovered and later returned to full duty, was issued a 15-day suspension after the shooting and transferred out of his role as a training instructor at SAPD’s academy.

Rios avoided being criminally charged, however, despite being in possession of a firearm while under the influence of intoxicants.

After the shooting, he refused to sign a release form that would have allowed SAPD internal affairs investigators to ask for medical records verifying his level of intoxication the night of the shooting, records previously showed.

Nine months before the shootout, in August 2017, Rios was listed as the victim in another road rage incident, near downtown.

The other driver in that incident, Nathan Pezina, described Rios as “aggressive, very short-tempered, careless.”

Pezina, then 20 years old, was driving in the outside lane in his Dodge Avenger when Rios, in a rented Ford Expedition, attempted to merge into his lane, according to an SAPD incident report.

While Rios told investigators that Pezina sped up to block him from merging, Pezina told the Defenders Rios was the aggressor, repeatedly swerving his vehicle and nearly hitting the front bumper of Pezina’s vehicle.

“I could tell in a way he was mocking me or laughing about it. Kind of a smug sort of demeanor to him,” Pezina said.

Rios told investigators that Pezina, while driving, lifted up a firearm and pointed it at him, causing Rios to fear for his safety, call 911 and then follow Pezina until on-duty officers pulled Pezina over on the on ramp from Interstate 37 South to Interstate 10 West.

Pezina was charged with deadly conduct and unlawful carry of a weapon.

Bexar County court records show the unlawful carry of a weapon charge was dismissed and Pezina was given one year of probation after pleading no contest to deadly conduct in Nov. 2017.

Rios told officers who responded to the 2017 incident that he reached for his department-issued service pistol in his passenger seat, but then realized it was in the back area of the rented vehicle.

“He’s lucky he didn’t get smoked,” Rios was recorded saying on a fellow officer’s body worn camera, after being allowed to sit in the front seat of a patrol vehicle while officers conducted their investigation.

A second conversation between officers and Rios was not recorded with audio because the officer muted his microphone just before he began talking to Rios on camera.

Rios, who has been with the department for 14 years, has been on extended military leave since July 29, 2019, according to the police department. He will be placed on suspension without pay pending the outcome of investigations into his conduct.

About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined the KSAT 12 Defenders in 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat. He provides restaurant health reports for KSAT's "Behind the Kitchen Door." Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.