DENVER — Appearing frail and moving slowly, John Copeland made his way through security and up to the courtroom for his disposition hearing Tuesday.
The 85-year-old man is being charged with assault with a deadly weapon. The charges stem from an incident that happened at a Home Depot in Stapleton. According to Richard Knudson, a volunteer with Disability Parking Enforcement, Copeland hit him with his cane when he was trying to verify his identification.
Copeland was later arrested at his home. According to his son, Larry Copeland , the arrest happened at midnight, and he said he had to wake his father when police arrived. He says his father is disabled and was confused by the entire incident.
“John Copeland is a disabled Korean War veteran,” Copeland’s attorney Siddartha Rathod said. “He uses a cane or a walker to move around. This is really a travesty what has happened here.”
Rathod says the Denver District Attorney has failed to do any “meaningful” investigation into the matter.
“The Denver Police Department failed to obtain video camera footage of this incident, failed to interview witnesses,” Rathod said. “They did nothing except arouse a disabled 85-year-old Korean War veteran from his bed at midnight and put him in jail for four days.”
Copeland has admitted to striking Knudson, a 66-year-old parking enforcement volunteer, with his cane during a trip to a Stapleton Home Depot on Dec. 15. Copeland maintains he only did so because he thought he was being attacked by Knudson, who was wearing plain clothes.
Knudson was deputized to work with the Denver Police Department, and such volunteers typically dress in civilian clothing. According to Copeland, Knudson did not identify himself and was trying to forcefully confiscate what he called an expired handicap permit.
Knudson described the attack as more sinister.
“When I refused to return the placard, Copeland got angry,” the volunteer said. “He could have killed me.”
As he left the courtroom Tuesday, Copeland said he was surprised to hear the District Attorney’s office was still charging him. An arraignment in the case is set for Feb. 14.
FOX31 Denver’s Kolin Lawler contributed to this report