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DENVER — An 85-year-old man who admits he smacked someone with his cane was in jail Thursday accused of felony assault with a deadly weapon.

His family says what is even more absurd than the allegation is the way Denver police officers hauled him out of bed in the middle of the night and took him away.

The family says the incident with the cane took place more than two weeks ago and the family thought it was just a minor parking issue.

They said the man would’ve been happy to go in and talk to police if they had only asked him to do that.

The first time family members were aware an investigation was underway was when police showed up in the middle of the night Wednesday, got the elderly man out of bed, arrested him and took him away in handcuffs.

John Copeland leaned on his walker and slowly made his way to the podium in the courtroom Thursday afternoon.

His family says Copeland is nearly deaf and he told the judge he couldn’t hear what the judge was saying.


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When the judge told him he was being held on $50,000 bond charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon, Copeland said he didn’t understand anything that was going on.

“Last night at about 12 o’clock AM, they sent about three policemen to the house to arrest my father,” says Larry Copeland.

Police and court officials say the arrest documents aren’t available.

But John Copeland’s family says the arrest is the result of an altercation that happened when the 85-year-old man was parking in a Home Depot parking lot more than two weeks ago.

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 tells FOX31 Denver getting hit with the cane stunned him. He also says he identified himself as a Denver police officer. He says Copeland became angry.

“This guy grabbed him. So that’s why he struck him with his cane, because he thought he was being attacked.” Larry Copeland says.

He says there was no need for police to roust his father out of bed in the middle of the night. “My father was in bed, in pain, sick, and they took him to jail.” Larry Copeland is worried because the family doesn’t have the $50,000 to get his father out of jail.

John Copeland spoke to FOX31 Denver from jail Thursday. “He never identified himself or nothin’,” he 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 family showed FOX31 Denver a parking ticket from Denver police for a handicapped parking violation.