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Bismarck School Board member cited for obstructing officers; Eckroth summoned to appear in court

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Bismarck School Board member Emily Eckroth is due in court next month after allegedly interfering with a traffic stop involving her husband earlier this month.

She was cited Sept. 3 for physical obstruction of a government function and summoned to appear Oct. 25 in state district court.

The case was forwarded to the Burleigh County State's Attorney's Office, according to Sheriff's Maj. Jim Hulm. A formal charge had not yet been filed Wednesday afternoon. 

An incident investigation report, complaint and summons state that Burleigh County Deputy Joe Citta pulled over Eckroth's husband, Ryan Eckroth, for failing to maintain his lane near mile marker 158 on westbound Interstate 94 in Bismarck at about 12:15 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3.

Emily Eckroth, a family physician who was elected in June to the Bismarck School Board, which oversees North Dakota's largest school district, was a passenger in the vehicle.

Citta's officer notes said Emily Eckroth "was immediately disrespectful" toward him and her husband. While Citta was administering standardized field sobriety tests to her husband, Emily Eckroth "began to yell 'This is bulls--t' towards deputies and began to record deputies," according to the notes. 

The deputies "gave several warnings to Emily to stay by the vehicle as to not interfere with the DUI investigation. It got to a point where Ryan was so flustered by Emily and the situation that he couldn't provide an adequate breath sample for the on-site breath screening test," Citta wrote.

A narrative in the report states that Emily Eckroth yelled over deputies and that she "was given several commands to stay by the vehicle and record them if she so chose to do so." 

Emily Eckroth "refused commands and began to walk towards Citta's patrol vehicle," according to his notes. Citta "detained" her for obstruction of government function "based on the totality of the circumstances." She was released on a promise to appear in court.

Emily Eckroth hung up twice on a Tribune reporter seeking comment Wednesday. She said, "I was videotaping. There you go. That's it."

Hulm said Ryan Eckroth "was extremely cooperative with law enforcement." He was not arrested for DUI. He called for a ride to leave, and the couple left with the ride.

Ryan Eckroth was an unsuccessful Bismarck-area legislative candidate in the June Republican primary election. 

The traffic stop lasted about 45 minutes, according to Hulm. 

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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