Lowell officer sues Noble Co., Caldwell police

A Caldwell man who serves as a part-time volunteer officer with the Lowell Police Department has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Southern Ohio against several officials in Noble County, including the county sheriff, county commissioners, the Village of Caldwell and at least three current or former members of the Caldwell Police Department.

In the suit Harold J. “Buck” Copen, 62, claims he was unjustly arrested and treated with excessive force following an argument on July 6, 2012 with Shirley Carna, who owns Copen’s residence at 813 Belford St. in Caldwell.

Carna also lived in the home at the time of the incident.

“I just want my reputation back. It’s the principle of this thing,” Copen said Wednesday.

According to a statement of facts in documents filed with the court June 25, Copen was having dinner with Carna at the residence when the argument occurred, after which Carna asked Copen to leave the premises and then called the police.

Copen claims he was packing to leave the house later that evening when Noble County Deputy Brandon Stokes and officers Corey Baker and Nathan Marietta with the Caldwell Police Department arrived and arrested Copen, pinning him against his vehicle.

In the federal court documents Copen said he was also grabbed by the neck and placed in a headlock by Stokes, after which all three officers forced him to the ground and handcuffed him. As he was led to a police cruiser Copen said he felt an immediate stinging sensation to his neck and in his left fingers and had blood on his face.

An ambulance was called and he was transported to Marietta Memorial Hospital where he was treated and later released.

Returning to Caldwell, Copen was jailed on one fourth-degree misdemeanor count each of disorderly conduct and domestic violence, as well as a second-degree misdemeanor count of resisting arrest.

In the federal court complaint filed June 25 Copen claimed officers also searched his home and vehicle without a warrant and took some personal belongings.

Copen posted $1,500 bond and was released from the county jail on July 9, 2012.

During a November hearing on the matter in Noble County Common Pleas Court Judge Lucien Young granted a motion by Copen to suppress all evidence in the case because it was obtained without a warrant.

On Nov. 20, 2012, the state dismissed all charges against Copen.

A retired deputy from Proctor County, Copen said he knows the law and his rights were violated.

“As a law officer I’ve made hundreds of misdemeanor and felony arrests, and I’ve never treated anyone that way,” he said Wednesday.

According to the documents filed with the federal court, Copen is seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages, but is asking the court to triple whatever base award amount it decides. He’s also asking for attorney fees and any court costs.

Copen also has a past record in Washington County, including two incidents of disorderly conduct, one cease and desist order and one trespassing charge since 2010.

Calls seeking comment from Hannum, Caldwell Mayor Larry Harless and the Noble County Commissioners were not immediately returned Wednesday.

Stokes, Marietta, Baker and former Caldwell Police Chief Brian Langley, also named in the suit, could not be reached for comment.