An 85-year-old man named John Copeland was thrown in prison on a $50,000 bond for “felony assault with a deadly weapon.” It wasn’t a gun or even a kitchen knife that he used to assault someone. It was his cane. He got into an altercation with a man in a Home Depot parking lot who questioned Copeland about his expired handicapped parking placard. The man wasn’t dressed like a cop but turned out to be a volunteer for the Denver Police. According to a local Fox affiliate in Denver, Copeland said the man didn’t identify himself, but being 85 years old, maybe he just didn’t hear him:
“Copeland told his family a security person took an expired handicapped parking placard out of his car. That man turned out to be a volunteer Denver police officer who enforces handicapped parking violations for the city. He was not a security officer hired by Home Depot…“He never identified himself or nothing.’ Copeland says about the man he had the altercation with in the parking lot. ‘And then I opened the door, I had my walkin’ cane, and I got out and I went to grab my parking thing from him. He slammed the door on me, and I took my cane and hit him,’ Copeland says.”
The incident happened about 2 weeks ago, and Copeland’s family thought it was just a minor parking issue. They didn’t even know he was under investigation until 3 cops showed up at his house in the middle of the night last Wednesday, got him out of bed and hauled him away to jail in handcuffs. Now the man’s family doesn’t know how they’re going to get him out because they don’t have $50,000.
The first question a lot of people ask is, “Why is this old man still driving at such an old age?” Well, that’s not really any of my business; that’s for his family to deal with. I saw how difficult it was for my parents to deal with their own aging parents’ driving privileges, and it looked more difficult and stressful than dealing with rebellious teenagers, but everybody’s parents are different.
Obviously, the old man is handicapped because of his age. He couldn’t get around without a cane, and he can’t see or hear too well. The handicapped parking spaces are for people just like Mr. Copeland. The fact that his placard was expired did not warrant harassment by the plain-clothes police officer. Since his job was to enforce the handicapped laws in the city, if he felt so strongly about Mr. Copeland’s expired sign, he could have left a citation on the man’s vehicle, like they leave parking tickets, or sent him a ticket in the mail.
What I don’t like seeing are people who are obviously neither disabled nor old, but who have their parents’ or grandparents’ car and park in a handicapped parking space just because they have their sign hanging from the rear view mirror. I don’t like the idea of regulators or code enforcers, but if this volunteer police officer just has to exist, he should focus on those violators, not old men whose only “violation” is having an expired permit.