WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A member of the Warwick School Committee has released a statement after she was arrested on DUI and assault charges over the weekend.
Karen Bachus, a 10-year member of the committee, acknowledged the charges in a public post on her personal Facebook page.
“I am extremely embarrassed by this incident. It does not reflect who I am or whom I strive to be every day,” Bachus wrote.
“I apologize to my family, friends, colleagues, and constituents,” she continued. “This incident will be addressed through our judicial system. I cannot comment further at this time.”
Bachus, 60, was taken into custody Saturday night after she was seen driving erratically near Warwick City Hall, according to police. The arrest report obtained by 12 News said a witness reported a driver “speeding over the speed bumps” and “swerving on the road.”
Police said an officer spotted the pickup truck on West Shore Road and saw the driver “pass over the white fog line with both passenger side tires, and remained there, making no apparent move back towards the center of the laneway.”
The officer stopped the truck near Oak Tree Avenue and noted the driver had difficulty getting the window down. The report stated the officer “immediately observed that Bachus’ speech was somewhat slurred” and that it was difficult to understand her at times.
Bachus had “glossy and bloodshot eyes” and the officer also “detected the odor of an alcohol beverage emanating from her breath as she spoke,” according to the report. When asked if she had consumed any alcohol before driving, Bachus told police she had two drinks, indicating they were wine.
Police said when Bachus exited the vehicle, she told them she had a number of medical problems. She also informed the officer multiple times—without being asked—that she was a “state worker.”
During field sobriety tests, police said Bachus fell backward, swayed from side to side, and became argumentative with officers. The arrest report said when an officer told Bachus that a breathalyzer test was an opportunity to prove she was not under the influence, she replied: “Well I might be DUI.”
“Bachus initially stated that she did not want to take the breathalyzer exam and at some point stated that someone was ‘screwing with her,'” one officer noted in the report. “She again informed me that she was a state worker and claimed to be a School Committee member.”
Police said Bachus attempted to take the test several times but was unable to. At that point, the officers handcuffed her, saying in the report they applied them in a loose manner “due to her stature.”
“Bachus was unhappy and without being asked stated that she had consumed ‘rice wine’ or ‘sake’ prior to driving her vehicle,” the report continued.
Bachus then slipped out of the handcuffs and “became confrontational and combative with officers” when they learned she had her phone inside the cruiser and was making a phone call, according to police. She refused “numerous times” to comply with the officers, the report said.
As police went to resecure her handcuffs, the officers said they each grabbed one of her arms to lift her up but were unable to support her weight, so she slowly fell to the ground and screamed.
Bachus was taken to police headquarters and her vehicle was towed away. The report said that “upon conducting an inventory search, numerous unopened ‘nips’ containers of alcohol were located inside the vehicle.”
At the police station, police said Bachus slipped out of the handcuffs again and continued to be confrontational. When asked to consent to the breathalyzer test, Bachus stated “I’m not doing that” and “I’m not signing anything.”
“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,” an officer wrote in the arrest report. “When she did this, it caused soreness in my left arm at the area of impact.”
The report went on to say Bachus refused to make any phone calls, sign paperwork, or take a breathalyzer test while in custody, and that she was uncooperative with the jailer attempting to photograph her. She was released the following morning to the custody of a sober adult.
12 News reached out to Bachus for additional comment, but she said she had nothing further to say than what she wrote in her social media post.
Since news of the arrest broke, Warwick Mayor Frank Picozzi said he’s gotten many inquiries about whether Bachus can be removed from the school committee.
“Our charter doesn’t provide for that, there’s no recall provision. There’s no mechanism to remove them from office,” Picozzi told 12 News.
Chairman David Testa said the school committee “takes these matters seriously and is monitoring the situation closely.”
Bachus is scheduled to be formally arraigned on March 2.