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Report: Bachus Argumentative, Resisted DUI Arrest

[CREDIT: Robert Ford] Warwick School Committee Chair Karen Bachus at the July 25 meeting, Warwick Veterans Middle School.

[CREDIT: Robert Ford] Warwick School Committee Chair Karen Bachus at the July 25 meeting, Warwick Veterans Middle School.
[CREDIT: Robert Ford] Warwick School Committee Chair Karen Bachus at the July 25, 2019 meeting, Warwick Veterans Middle School.
WARWICK, RI — Officer Keara Enos’ report on the DUI arrest of Karen Bachus, 60, Feb. 18 describes the Warwick School Committee member’s erratic driving, argumentative behavior and assault on Enos.

The report also details Bachus’s disclosure of medical conditions, prompting Enos to make the handcuffs placed on Bachus less tight than she otherwise would. The loose restraints allowed Bachus to slip out of the handcuffs twice during the arrest, including when she was initially placed in a cruiser, where officers discovered she had secreted her cellphone to make a call. 

As officer Robert Lewis, who arrived to assist after the stop, was searching Bachus’s truck, he noticed that that the dashboard console, previously playing the radio, had switched to a phone conversation, overhearing someone say “Hello?” according to the report. He returned to the cruiser and opened the rear passenger door to find Bachus had slipped out of the handcuffs and was attempting to use her phone.

Lewis explained  she was not allowed a phone while in the patrol car, but Bachus refused to turn it over. Lewis and Enos struggled with Bachus to get the phone away from her, with each grasping one of Bachus’s arms, and removed her from the cruiser. They  seized the phone, restrained her again and continued to transport her to Warwick Police Headquarters, 99 Veterans Memorial Drive.

Once they were at the station, Bachus again slipped her left hand out of the handcuffs restraining her. She continued to refuse to cooperate with the officers as she was processed, refusing to accept her Constitutionally guaranteed phone call, refusing to sign paperwork and also refusing to take a breathalyzer test. 

While seated at the breathalyzer, Bachus stood and walked away. When the officers attempted to guide and force her back to her seat, “Bachus then balled her right hand into a fist, raised it above her shoulder and struck me in the left arm, just below my elbow,” Enos wrote in her report. “When she did this it caused soreness in my left arm at the area of impact,”

Enos grabbed Bachus by both arms and pushed her back into her chair and ordered her to stop, as Bachus continued to push against her. Enos concluded her investigation shortly after.

“I want to make folks aware that I was involved in an incident this weekend that resulted in my being arrested and charged with DUI and simple assault. I am extremely embarrassed by this incident. It does not reflect who I am or whom I strive to be every day. I apologize to my family, friends, colleagues, and constituents. This incident will be addressed through our judicial system. I cannot comment further at this time,” Bachus said in a post on her Facebook page Wednesday night.

Witnesses alerted WPD to erratic driver

Earlier that night, callers alerted Warwick Police to a white Dodge Ram pickup that was speeding over the speed bumps in front of Warwick City Hall and swerving, according to Enos’s report. The caller advised that they would follow with their blinkers on to aid police in stopping the driver. 

Enos spotted the pair of vehicles as they passed 3666 West Shore Road. She saw that the truck had passed its tires over the white fog line and did not return to its lane, according to the officer’s report. 

The caller said in a later statement that there had been several instances where the white truck had been driving primarily in the breakdown lane. 

Enos stopped the truck at West Shore Road and Oak Tree Avenue, and identified the driver as Bachus. Enos observed Bachus had slurred speech, glossy/bloodshot eyes and that her breath smelled of alcohol. When asked if she’d been drinking, Bachus said she had had two wine drinks, which she later amended to sake. Bachus agreed to take sobriety tests. 

Sobriety tests prompt arrest

During the tests, she told Enos that she had multiple medical issues, including vertigo and screws in her ankle. As Bachus moved to face away from passing traffic at Enos’s instruction, she briefly lost her balance, falling against a guy wire attached to a nearby utility pole. 

During the vision test, which took several tries as Bachus failed to follow instructions, Enos noted a lack of smooth pursuit and involuntary movement in her vision. During the walk and turn test, Bachus argued with officers, then lost her balance multiple times.The one-leg stand test was skipped out of concern for her safety.

During a preliminary breath test, Bachus volunteered that she was a School Committee Member and state worker, and initially refused to take the test, relenting when Enos told her she believed Bachus was operating under the influence of alcohol. 

When Bachus took the test, she puffed her cheeks out several times, but did not effectively blow into the device, Enos reported.

The officers concluded the tests, then arrested her and placed her in the cruiser before discovering her cell phone and seizing it. Bachus’s truck was towed from the scene by Pat’s Towing. An inventory of the truck turned up several unopened small “nip” bottles of alcohol. 

Enos ultimately charged Bachus with Simple Assault/Battery, DUI, Blood Alcohol Unknown, first offense, Refusing to Submit to a Breath Test and Lane Violations. Bachus was later released to the custody of a sober adult with a Third District Court summons for her arraignment on the DUI and assault charges March 2.

Joe Siegel
Author: Joe Siegel

Joe Siegel is a regular contributing writer for His reporting has appeared in The Sun Chronicle in Attleboro and EDGE.

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