Kenosha police officers threatened, man charged with 13 counts

Richard Karls

A Kenosha man is charged with 13 counts, accused of threatening officers and kicking one of them in face. It started with a Feb. 21 altercation outside a bar.

Prosecutors said 32-year-old Richard Karls has a history of "violent" run-ins with law enforcement. He had two open cases at the time.

Police were called to a Kenosha bar near 33rd Avenue and 52nd Street for "indecent exposure." Upon arrival, a black SUV started backing up toward the officer's squad but pulled into a parking space after the squad's lights were turned on.

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According to a criminal complaint, the officer went up to and asked the driver, Karls, to lower the window. Karls was reaching around inside and did not lower the window. Eventually, Karls opened the door and the officer smelled alcohol.

While Karls never showed his ID, per the complaint, the officer eventually recognized him from other run-ins in which his "behavior shifted rapidly between semi-cooperative to violent." In those instances, the officer said Karls had threatened to "kill officers and their families" and previously beat up officers. 

Kenosha Police Department

Kenosha Police Department

The complaint states the officer frisked Karls for weapons, considering his past run-ins with police. Again smelling alcohol, the officer started to ask Karls if he'd anything to drink. At that point, Karls started to become "agitated."

Karls refused to take standardized field sobriety tests and started walking away as the officer tried to arrest him, per the complaint. Once in handcuffs, officers continued to search Karls who began tensing up, pulling away and moving around – at one point banging his head on the hood of the squad and threatening to take officers' guns. 

Once Karls was in the squad car, the complaint states officers checked out the black SUV and saw an open bottle inside. A woman who was in the SUV told police that the drink was hers, and she got it from the bar. Another bottle in the car was still sealed.

Police spoke to a bartender. The bartender said they served Karls one drink and later a sealed "to-go bottle."

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At a hospital for an evidentiary blood draw, the complaint states Karls nodded in agreement to the blood draw and mumbled "yes." An officer left to get information from his squad and came back to find Karls on the floor of the ER lobby "kicking his legs and thrashing around." He screamed as officers escorted him away and had to be handcuffed to a gurney. Based on his behavior, officers felt it was clear he'd "revoked his consent" for the blood draw.

Police got a warrant to take Karls' blood. While that was being filled out, the complaint states Karls kicked an officer in the face and again began threatening to take officers' guns. At times, police said he tried to bite officers.

On the way to the Kenosha County Jail, the complaint states Karls was "abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous and unreasonably loud" – and again threatened to kill several officers and their families.

The complaint states Karls had two prior OWI convictions and two open felony cases. In each of those cases, the court ordered him not to have or drink alcohol. 

In all, Karls is charged with:

  • Disarming a peace officer
  • Threat to a law enforcement officer (4 counts)
  • Battery to a law enforcement officer
  • Felony bail jumping (4 counts)
  • Resisting an officer
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence (3rd offense)

Karls' cash bond was set at $20,000.