Marietta, GA – A Marietta city councilman ignored police and refused to hand over his license after they responded to help him at the scene of a traffic crash.
Marietta City Councilman Reginald “Reggie” Copeland argued with police for 13 minutes before the exasperated officers finally removed him from his vehicle, bodycam footage showed.
But Copeland was ultimately taken out of handcuffs and allowed to go free after a superior officer responded to the scene, the Marietta Daily Journal reported.
Five days later, the 57-year-old councilman was arrested on four misdemeanor counts of obstructing police.
The incident began at approximately 11 a.m. on May 24, when a 19-year-old driver attempting to make a U-turn crashed into the side of Copeland’s vehicle on Fairground Street, WXIA reported.
Marietta Police Officer Ryan Lukaszewicz responded to the scene and asked both drivers to move their vehicles out of the roadway, bodycam footage showed.
Copeland said that his vehicle wouldn’t start, so Officer Lukaszewicz redirected traffic around them as he spoke to the city councilman about what occurred.
The officer asked Copeland for his insurance and driver’s license information and told one of his fellow officers that he planned to “cut him loose” shortly, the video showed.
But when the officer again asked Copeland for his license, he ignored him and wanted to know if the other driver would be cited.
Officer Lukaszewicz said that was a possibility, but that he had to finish his investigation before he made any conclusions.
He requested Copeland’s license and insurance information several more times before he finally gave up and told the councilman to “forget it.”
He then went to close the driver’s side door of the city councilman’s car, at which point Copeland appeared to kick the door open while accusing the officer of trying to close his foot in the door.
A second later, having still not handed over his driver’s license information, Copeland called 911, declared that he was a city councilman, and requested for a “watch commander” to be dispatched to the scene, the video showed.
Officer Lukaszewicz radioed for another unit as Copeland continued to ignore him and answered the dispatcher’s questions instead.
“Sir, you realize you’re wasting my time and you’re obstructing my investigation, okay?” the officer calmly asked. “You understand that? Are you going to keep ignoring me?”
Copeland continued to disregard Officer Lukaszewicz and complained to the dispatcher that his back was hurting.
“Let her know you’re out with the cops and you’re wasting our 911’s time right now,” the officer told him, to no avail. “Sir, you’re wasting their time. You’re trying to report an accident that we’re already out here for.”
Copeland then turned his attention to Officer Lukaszewicz, and told him that he was actually reporting that the officer tried to shut his foot in the truck door.
“I can’t hear you,” Copeland told the dispatcher, just before he closed his door, rolled up his window, and drove off into a nearby parking lot.
The officer followed him and began knocking on his window, but the city councilman continued to ignore him.
Copeland then placed a call to Marietta Police Deputy Chief Marty Ferrell, and complained to him about the crash and how Officer Lukaszewicz allegedly shut his foot in the door, the Marietta Daily Journal reported.
Chief Ferrell ultimately asked Copeland to hand the phone over to the officer.
“I’m trying to handle an accident but he keeps getting in his car and rolling up the windows. He won’t talk to me, so…” Officer Lukaszewicz explained. “He wants to play games and sit in his car the whole time.”
Moments later, the officer handed Copeland’s phone back to him and ordered him to get out of his truck, but the city councilman’s noncompliance continued, bodycam footage showed.
He began yelling at the officers when they started to pull him from the truck.
“You don’t have to put your hands on me!” Copeland hollered. “I haven’t done anything!”
The city councilman assured the officers that he would get out, then turned his attention back to his cell phone.
Police then went hands-on with him, and warned him that he would be tased if he didn’t get out of the truck.
“This is terrible, man,” Copeland complained as the officers put him in handcuffs.
“I agree,” Officer Lukaszewicz replied. “You’re acting like a child.”
Marietta Police Major Jake King and other superior officers arrived at the scene a short while later, the Marietta Daily Journal reported.
Maj. King ultimately decided to release Copeland until the bodycam footage could be reviewed.
“Without going through all the camera footage right now I think it would be smart of us, which I don’t like and it’s going to cause us a bunch of heartache regardless, that we kick him loose now and kind of drop back and review some of this stuff,” Maj. King told someone over the phone, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.
“He’s not going anywhere, we obviously know him, we won’t have any problems if later we decide to bring charges against him for the obstruction. That’s not an issue,” the major added.
“Yeah, you’re the boss,” Officer Lukaszewicz said.
The city councilman never did end up handing his driver’s license and insurance information over to the officers.
Although Copeland was allowed to walk away from the incident, he was ultimately arrested five days later and booked into jail on four counts of obstructing police.
On Jan. 20, Copeland entered an Alford plea on a single count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, WSB reported.
In exchange, prosecutors dropped three counts of misdemeanor obstructing police.
State Court Judge Maria Golick ordered that Copeland participate in anger management treatment, and also agreed to seal his court record from the public.
“This court finds that the harm resulting to the privacy of the defendant outweighs the public interest in the criminal history record information being publicly available,” Golick’s order read, according to WSB.
Copeland refused to comment on the incident, according to WXIA.