Friday, March 13, 2009

Worried about Mexican drug gangs? How about the U.S. police gangs?

Just another day in the "War on Drugs"

Friends of Grand Valley student Derek Copp, shot by police in Campus View Apartments accuse officers of overacting

by John Tunison and Nate Reens | The Grand Rapids Press
Thursday March 12, 2009, 11:11 PM

Derek Copp

ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP -- Friends of Derek Copp cannot comprehend how he would pose a threat during a police raid of his Campus View apartment late Wednesday, or why a deputy shot and wounded an unarmed Copp.

"Nobody wants to think those in the criminal justice system are shooting unarmed college students," said Laura Quist, a 19-year-old Grand Valley State University sophomore who lives in an opposite hallway from Copp, 20.

Friends described Copp as an easygoing, guitar-playing young man.

Students today continue to question what happened after five officers with the West Michigan Enforcement Team, a regional drug unit, executed a drug-related search warrant on Copp's apartment. Copp, a film and video major, was shot in the upper right chest area with a Glock handgun after police came through a back glass slider door.

Copp was listed in serious condition at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital.

Police on Thursday said there was no confrontation and did not think Copp was trying to flee, but did not divulge details about what led to the shooting.

A student neighbor of Copp, Joe Putra, said he was surprised by the raid.

"He wasn't a real shady kid," Putra said. "It wasn't like he was trying to hide anything."

The unidentified deputy who fired the shot, a 12-year Ottawa County sheriff's veteran with a good record, is on paid leave pending a Michigan State Police investigation. He was assigned to WEMET two years ago.

State police Lt. Cam Henke would not disclose whether police found drugs in Copp's apartment or what kind of drug they were seeking. The search warrant was for an "ongoing narcotics investigation."

He said drug raids at GVSU happen occasionally.

David Bearss, a friend of Copp, questions why police knocked on his rear sliding door instead of going to the front door. Apartments at the complex are accessible 24 hours a day.

He calls Copp one of the happiest, friendliest guys he knows and suggested police did not properly identify themselves.

"If they said it was the police, Derek wouldn't have done anything different and I can't imagine he did anything to justify getting shot," Bearss said. "These guys have all this weapons training to control their guns and it doesn't seem like any of it was used here."

Police discuss GVSU shooting
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