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85-year-old charged with assault for hitting man with cane

6:02 PM, Jan 7, 2013   |    comments
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John Copeland was arrested last week on a warrant after allegedly striking a 66-year-old parking enforcement volunteer with his cane.
He bonded out of the Denver jail Friday evening, where he was being held on $50,000 bond.

The volunteer, Richard Knudson, told 9NEWS he was looking for people violating handicapped parking laws outside of a Home Depot in Stapleton when the confrontation happened.

He confronted Copeland, who was asleep in his car, which was parked in a handicapped space. Copeland allegedly presented an expired placard and got into an argument with Knudson.

Knudson says he was hit with Copeland's cane, which he reported and led to a warrant for Copeland's arrest.

On Friday, a group of community activists went to the Denver mayor's office to express concerns over the case.

"If I was in that position, and I saw someone 85-year-old in a handicap parking place, and that tag was expired, something in my mind might say this individual may need to be parked a little closer to Home Depot," Jeff Fard said.

Fard questioned the use of volunteers to give citations to people, especially if they don't look very official.

"If someone walked up to your elderly father or mother and began offering citations or demands without the appearance of someone in a position of authority, are they supposed to say, 'Oh, I believe you. Here are my items. Here's what I'm supposed to do,'" Fard asked.
Denver Police Chief Robert White told the activists it's something he wants to examine.

"Even if we were 100 percent right, and I'm not saying that's the case, could we do this better?" White said.

The Denver Police Department issued a statement on its Twitter followers about Copeland's arrest.

"At this time all indications are that the actions of each Denver Police Officer in this case were appropriate and in line with the high standards expected of them," said Lt. Matt Murray.

According to the volunteer program's website, the parking enforcement volunteers are required to pass background checks and attend six hours of classroom training before being allowed to write tickets.

Copland's first court appearance will be on Jan. 18. 

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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