Police video of Marietta Councilman Reginald “Reggie” Copeland being arrested shows he ignored an officer’s instructions for over 10 minutes before backup police arrived and Copeland was forcibly pulled out of his truck and placed in handcuffs.
“It’s someone who thinks they’re above the law, it’s a councilman,” arresting officer Ryan Lukaszewicz says to another Marietta police officer in bodycam footage. “Won’t acknowledge me at all, just like I’m not even there.”
Copeland, 57, was sentenced as a first offender in the State Court of Cobb County last week in relation to his May 2019 arrest, per court documents, but his criminal court case is now sealed from public view so it’s not known what charge or charges he admitted to and what his sentence is. Before the case was sealed by Judge Maria Golick, Copeland faced four misdemeanor charges of obstructing police.
The MDJ obtained a dozen Marietta police video files showing Copeland’s arrest, including nine body camera videos and three from patrol car cameras, through an Open Records Act request. The MDJ also obtained a full police incident report with a written transcript of the arresting officer's video footage.
The video shows Copeland first interacting with Officer Lukaszewicz, who responded to a minor car collision on Fairground Street on May 24, 2019.
Lukaszewicz spends 13 minutes asking Copeland to move his vehicle to the side of the road and provide his driver’s license before saying “I’m done” and pulling the councilman out of his Dodge Ram truck with the help of two backup officers.
Less than 10 minutes beforehand, Lukaszewicz is heard on the video saying to another officer “I’m just going to cut him (Copeland) loose in a second here,” indicating that he did not initially intend to arrest the councilman.
There was never any suggestion Copeland caused the car collision. The other driver involved, a 19-year-old woman, is seen receiving a citation for making an improper U-turn in the arresting officer’s bodycam footage.
“He’s driver two in all this so I don’t know what the big deal is,” Lukaszewicz says to another officer about Copeland resisting police.
Copeland did eventually move his vehicle off the road and into a nearby parking lot, but he continued to ignore the officer, rolling up his car windows and refusing to answer questions or comply with orders.
“You realize you’re wasting my time and you’re obstructing my investigation, OK?” Lukaszewicz says to Copeland, as seen in the video footage. “Do you understand that? Are you going to keep ignoring me?”
In the dozen or so minutes that Copeland can be seen ignoring Lukaszewicz’s repeated requests, the councilman sits in his truck and makes several phone calls, first calling 911 although police are already on scene. He tells the dispatcher his back hurts but he doesn’t need an ambulance, and that an officer has tried to slam his foot in his car door.
“Let her know you’re out with the cops and you’re wasting 911’s time right now,” Lukaszewicz says to Copeland while the councilman is talking with the dispatcher.
Copeland can then be heard in the footage speaking on his phone to Marietta Police Department Deputy Chief Marty Ferrell, again claiming Lukaszewicz tried to shut his foot in his truck door and explaining his version of events.
Copeland hands the phone to Lukaszewicz, who tells Ferrell “I’m trying to handle an accident but he (Copeland) keeps getting in his car and rolling up his windows and won’t talk to me. He wants to play games and sit in his car the whole time.”
It’s not long before things between the parties get heated and Copeland is pulled from his car.