Man who dragged deputy with car given seven years in prison
A Batavia resident who dragged a deputy with his car, putting the deputy's life in danger, will serve seven years in state prison, Judge Robert C. Noonan ruled this morning.
"It's never easy to impose a harsh sentence on somebody, but it is easier when I feel like I'm fulfilling my duty to separate somebody from society for as long as possible," Noonan said.
Scott Kopper, 37, entered a guilty plea May 22 to assault in the second degree. As a second felony offender, the maximum sentence that could be imposed was seven years.
Assistant District Attorney Robert Zickl said it was personally difficult to be the person handling the prosecution of Kopper because Zickl knew him years before he started getting into trouble.
He knew him, he said, as an EMT working the sidelines at youth football games.
"To be in this position today is difficult because I have to ask the court to impose the maximum sentence on Scott," Zickl said. "He is a threat to society and eventually he's going to seriously hurt or kill somebody."
Assistant Public Defender William Tedford asked Noonan to impose a four year sentence, giving Kopper the best opportunity to return to the life he once knew -- college educated, volunteer firefighter, EMT and hazmat trained, a family man.
That all fell apart, Tedford said, after Kopper's father died and Kopper started using drugs and developed mental health issues.
Zickl told Noonan that Kopper could have killed Deputy Brian Thompson on Jan. 7 when Thompson's arm became lodged in the window of Kopper's car as he tried to flee from Thompson, who was attempting to arrest him for a parole violation.
It was the day after a blizzard and the roads were still icy. If not, Zickl said, Thompson certainly would have been killed in the incident.
"His tires were spinning as fast as they would go," Zickl said. "On a dry surface he would have been up to 70 or 80 mph immediately."
Tedford said evidence showed Kopper was over medicated that day and probably intended harm to himself, but not to Thompson.
"He has a great deal of remorse for what he did that day," Tedford said. "I have the utmost respect for Deputy Thompson. He has the utmost respect for Deputy Thompson. He's truly sorry. I submit to you that when my client is properly medicated, he has no propensity for violent behavior."
Noonan said the only way Kopper could get proper supervision and mental health treatment in today's society is in prison. There simply isn't the available resources to provide him with the kind of constant supervision he needs if he were at liberty.
Thompson also addressed the court, asking Kopper to turn to Jesus Christ for his salvation and telling Kopper that he forgave him even though he hadn't asked for his forgiveness.
Thompson quoted from the Book of Roman: "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse; Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn; Live in harmony with one another; ... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
In conclusion, Thompson said, "Thank you for the opportunity to reflect on my life over this past six months."
Dressed in Genesee County Jail orange, Kopper turned his chair a bit toward the dias where Thompson stood and spoke and watched him throughout his statement.
After Tedford spoke, Kopper made a brief statement.
"I'd like to apologize for my actions that day, but more importantly, I want to apologize to Deputy Thompson," Kopper said. "I'm very sorry."
As a county, we are blessed with a great group of Deputies. LEO's with the character, restraint, and professionalism of Deputy Thompson are to be commended. In other jurisdictions this could very well have had a very different and very tragic outcome for both.
Well said, Jeff.
[Noonan said the only way Kopper could get proper supervision and mental health treatment in today's society is in prison.}
What this guy did was terrible and reckless and he deserves jail but sometimes I think that Noonan lives in fantasyland.