85-year-old John Copeland accused of felony assault with cane

10:11 AM, Jan 4, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER, CO (KUSA) - An 85-year-old accused of using his cane as a deadly weapon repeatedly told a Denver judge Thursday that he couldn't hear most of the proceedings that were taking place inside the courtroom.

His son, a clearly agitated Larry Copeland, was hardly surprised.

"He's lost 85 percent of his hearing," Copeland explained shortly after the hearing.

Denver Police arrested his father, John Copeland, shortly before midnight on Wednesday inside the north Denver home the two share.

Police believe the elder Copeland used a cane to assault a Denver Disability Parking Enforcement Volunteer at the Stapleton Home Depot parking lot last month. While prosecutors have yet to charge John Copeland, court records show he's being held on suspicion of second-degree assault, a felony.

"My father was in bed, in pain, and sick when [Denver Police officers] took him to jail handcuffed," Larry Copeland said.

From jail Thursday evening, Copeland said he was struggling in pain without all his medication. 

He said he believed he did nothing wrong.

"I didn't see no identification," Copeland said about the volunteer parking enforcement officer. "He never showed me none."

While police records of what happened have yet to be released, 9NEWS spoke with the alleged victim, Richard Knudson, 66, by phone on Thursday. 

Knudson says he volunteers his time whenever he can to enforce handicapped parking laws in the city.

"I showed my identification," Knudson said. "I told him who I was."

He also revealed in more detail what might have led to the reported assault.

The victim said he was patrolling the parking lot looking for people improperly parking in handicapped spaces when he came upon Copeland sleeping in his car. 

Richard Knudson said he noticed the car did not have a placard and decided to write a citation, something he is allowed to do because of his job. Eventually, he said, Copeland woke up and the two got into a verbal altercation. 

He said Copeland eventually showed him a placard, but he noticed it was expired by six months, so he continued to write the citation. Knudsen said he also decided to keep Copeland's expired placard. 

At that point, he said, Copeland grabbed for his credentials which he was wearing around his neck. When the credentials fell to the ground, he bent down to pick them up, and that's when he felt Copeland's cane hit him on the back of his neck. 

The alleged victim said he suffered headaches for two days but had no other serious injuries. 

"He could have crippled me," Knudson said. "I'm also a senior citizen."

Copeland's son doesn't deny the allegations but openly questions just how much damage his elderly father could have done. 

"I think the whole thing is absurd. It really is absurd," Larry Copeland said. 

He said his father has one kidney, high blood pressure, and suffers from a variety of other physical ailments. 

A Denver judge kept the bond at $50,000. It's a number Larry Copeland says will be impossible for his family to raise. 

"He has to take his medication every day for a variety of things," he said. "If he makes it through this, I'll be surprised."


(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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