Saturday, February 24, 2007

Magazine: Copeland withholds public documents from reporter

Land Line, a national magazine for independent truckers, says Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland refused to turn over a use of force report or the department's policy for taser usage to a reporter working on a story of a Tennessee trucker who claims an off-duty officer treated him brutally during an incident at a Petro in Joplin.

The officer, Steve Cathers, who now works for the Jasper County Sheriff's Department, offered a different version of his encounter with Larry Works, saying in a probable cause affidavit that Works became belligerent and assaulted him. Cathers did not mention using a taser.

Copeland declined to confirm how many times Larry was Tased and said that would be noted in the deputy’s use of force report. The Sheriff's department has a policy for use of Taser guns, but Copeland declined to describe or reveal the policy and wouldn't show Land Line the use of force report. "I don't want to try a case in a magazine before it gets to court," Copeland said.

Works' preliminary hearing on a charge of assaulting a police officer is scheduled for March 8 in Newton County Circuit Court.

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