John Copeland allegedly caned parking-enforcement volunteer over handicapped spot

John Copeland is 85 years old and apparently walks with assistance from a cane -- something we know because he's been formally charged with using one to bash another man, age 66, in the head.

And why did Copeland whack this not-so-young whippersnapper? Over a handicapped parking place.

The details of the December 15 incident can be found in the arrest affidavit on view below. The document notes that a person identified by the Denver District Attorney's Office as a disability-parking-enforcement volunteer noticed a car parked in a handicapped spot that had no visible handicap plates or placard. Hence, the volunteer wrote up a ticket.

Shortly thereafter, the car's owner, subsequently identified as Copeland, turned up -- and he wasn't happy, especially when the volunteer told him he wouldn't throw the ticket away. He expressed his displeasure by striking the man on the head with his cane.

Despite his advanced years, Copeland apparently can still manage a mighty swing. In talking to police officers, the volunteer admitted that he was uncertain whether or not he would be able to identify his assailant because "after being struck in the head, he is having trouble recalling things."

Somehow, he managed, though. Copeland was traced through the license plate on his car, and his image was included in a photo lineup shown to the volunteer on December 19, four days after his caning. And despite his doubts, he positively ID'd Big John.

Copeland has now been accused of third-degree assault on an at-risk adult. He was released from custody on a $2,000 bond and a promise to show up at the Denver County Courthouse on January 18 to be formally advised of the charges against him.

While he's there, he might ask around about how to get handicapped plates.

Here's a larger look at Copeland's booking photo, followed by the aforementioned arrest affidavit.

John Copeland Arrest Affidavit

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts