San Antonio police officer with long history of road rage incidents resigns

Officer Dezi Rios facing charges of DWI, failure to provide info, and remains under investigation for assault

Dezi Rios (BCSO/KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio police officer with a documented history of road rage has resigned months after being charged in a drunk driving hit-and-run case, department officials confirmed Friday.

Officer Dezi Rios, 39, resigned Nov. 1. He had been on suspension without pay following the crash.

Rios was arrested for DWI in July, after crashing into another driver’s vehicle that was stopped at a red light at the intersection of O’Connor and Stahl Roads and then fleeing the scene.

The other driver involved in the crash, 61-year-old Ara Halibian, followed and confronted Rios, police said. Rios then allegedly assaulted Halibian during a subsequent confrontation under an overpass at Bulverde Road and Loop 1604.

Halibian suffered a broken nose, significant trauma to his face and injuries to his shoulder, elbow and knee after being punched by Rios — according to Halibian’s count — between 20-25 times.

SAPD officer Dezi Rios (left) is accused of assaulting Ara Halibian (center) in July. (KSAT)

The crash was at least the third known road rage incident involving Rios since August 2017.

SAPD officer with history of road rage shouted at other officer, repeatedly banged head against window during DWI arrest, report says

Days after the wreck, a Bexar County grand jury indicted Rios for failure to stop and give information.

Rios remains free on bond on both misdemeanor charges, Bexar County court records show.

Rios, to date, has not been charged with assault.

A spokeswoman for the Bexar County District Attorney’s office said as recently as last week that the office could not comment on matters that may be under investigation or review.

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

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.

About the Author:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.