Lead Investigator In Hamley Shooting Accused Of Conflict Of
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 4, 2006
SPRINGDALE, ARKANSAS--State Police Sergeant Steve Coppinger said last week that he saw no problem with sending an email to fellow troopers asking for donations to the legal defense fund of Trooper Larry Norman, who was indicted last month on negligent homicide charges.
But some are questioning Coppinger's action because he was the lead investigator into Norman's March 7 shooting death of 17-year-old Joseph "Erin" Hamley. Coppinger's investigation provided some of the evidence that led a Benton County grand jury to recommend that the criminal charges be filed against Norman.
"I don't see a conflict at all," Coppinger told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, explaining that he simply forwarded the email to the police email list, and that he did so after Norman was indicted.
A department spokesperson said Coppinger is now being investigated to determine whether he violated department policy by sending the email on his police computer and workplace email account.
Norman is scheduled to be arraigned on the misdemeanor charge on May 22. If convicted, he could spend up to one year behind bars.
The trooper, mistaking Hamley for a Michigan prison escapee, fatally shot him along a rural highway when Hamley failed to follow officers' instructions. They later learned that Hamley had cerebral palsy, an intellectual disability, and a mental illness.
Members of the grand jury heard testimony suggesting that Hamley may have been trying to comply with officer's directors when Norman shot him. They also heard that the trooper failed to follow instructions from a fellow state trooper to block traffic, instead bringing himself into the confrontation with Hamley.
"State police officers e-mail raises stir" (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
"Grand Jury Indicts State Trooper For Negligent Homicide In Shooting" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)