Man with AR-15 rifle outside Kenosha courthouse says he is former Ferguson officer

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A man seen carrying an AR-15 rifle outside the courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where a jury is deliberating in the double homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, identified himself as a former police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

The man, Jesse Kline, who was first identified by a Twitter user known as Danesh and whose identity was later confirmed by the Chicago Tribune, told the crowd that he is a former officer in Ferguson, Missouri, which was rocked by weeks of protests after police killed Michael Brown in 2104. 

In a brief interview, Kline said he had traveled to Kenosha from Arizona, where he lives, to “exercise my constitutional rights.”

The Ferguson Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kline confirmed that he was seen outside the Kenosha courthouse denouncing Black Lives Matter and calling the movement a “terrorist organization.” Photos also captured him holding what appeared to be a sex toy.

The Tribune reported that he arrived at the courthouse in a Maserati with his rifle wearing a tactical vest, a button-down shirt, a bow tie, slacks and dress shoes. Wisconsin is an open carry state.

He returned to the courthouse Thursday with “a long, narrow tote bag that was similar in appearance to a rifle case,” according to the Tribune.

The man initially called himself “Maserati Mike” but later identified himself as Kline.

After sheriff’s deputies told Kline that he couldn’t have the firearm because state law prohibits people from carrying guns within 1,000 feet of a school, the incident was resolved without further action, the Tribune reported.

Kline began working with the Ferguson Police Department in 2015 and was fired three years later after he was accused of following an ex-girlfriend to another man’s home and poking the man’s chest with the barrel of his gun, NBC affiliate KSDK of St. Louis reported.

Stalking and assault charges were dropped because the ex-girlfriend and a witness refused to cooperate with authorities and failed to appear for court hearings, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Asked Thursday about the dismissed allegations, Kline said in a text message that “sometimes people lie to the police and charges get dropped.”

He ended the message with a smiley face emoji.

Kline declined to try to get his job back because he “humbly moved on to better opportunities,” he said in a text message.

He said he was now an investor, although he declined to provide additional details and hung up on a reporter.

Moments later, he called back and said: “I wanted to let you know I’m government-funded and sometimes I glow in the dark.”

Then Kline hung up again.

Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News based in California.

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