Sunday, December 1, 2013


 There are always jokes about police officers and donuts. Here is one of mine. 

In the early '70's, the city had just hired a large number of black officers to come up to 'standards' with the racial balance in the community. The concept was good, except with all government programs, they went with quantity and not quality. I suppose Copeland would have been just as bad an officer if he had been white. I think that he thought he had an advantage, he certainly had a chip on his shoulder. Either way, he was placed on our crew.

A sweet lady by the name of Mrs. Bray owned the Newnan Bakery just off court square. Her baker, JW, came in about 2:30 am in the morning to start the donuts and other such things. As a reward for seeing that JW safely got into the shop(and giving him a ride on rainy mornings), the 3rd shift crew got to eat as many fresh donuts and coffee as they wanted--in the store--not 1 was to be taken out the door. That rule was to prevent some lowlife from feeding his whole family. 

 The Square Officer would usually be around the area when it was time for JW to arrive at the Bakery, give him about 30 minutes to get the donuts in the hot grease and the coffee on and then drop in for a few. If you were smart, when you pecked on the window and got the thumbs up from JW signaling that the first batch was ready, you would radio the Lt. and say, "JW wants to see you." There was a pecking order; Lt., Sargent, Square man, then the others. We were allowed(except for Lt. Smith, who could take all the time he wanted) a 15 minute break at the Donut Shop. This system worked  fine until it came to Copeland. He would go in when JW got there and stay and stay. This did not set well with Lt. Smith for several reasons, 1. Officers were to do their jobs, 2. this was unfair to the other officers, 3. the Lt. did not like being last.

The one thing that Copeland did know is that if the Lt. called your location and called you again 10 minutes later and you were still in the same place, you would have some explaining to do to the Chief. This is where the side door that opens into the alley comes in. If you got the second call, you could be out the door, down the alley and a block away from the Bakery in about 20 seconds. That would be enough time for the Lt. to come by and see that you were on the job.

The mass hiring of all the black officers was a hot button issue. No one in charge wanted to call out a single black officer for fear of repercussions of the NAACP and other black organizations. The Lt., tiring of Copeland and his antics, called the officers together and announced that if "we" did not stop spending so much time in the donut shop, he was going to place it off limits to the entire crew. I took this as a personal challenge to handle the situation. Maybe I misunderstood.


I was not going to be denied some of the best, freshest, donuts anywhere just because of some selfish jerk. I had been rolling this plan around in my head for a long time, just sort of a fantasy in the beginning, now it was time to put it in action. I had everything I needed in my locker; a .22 caliber revolver, .22 caliber nail driving blanks, fishing cord, and the will to get even.

The next time it was Copeland's turn on Square Detail, he did what he always did, went in and stayed until the Lt.'s second call. As soon as he went in, I found an iron vent grate halfway down the alley. I duct taped the pistol, loaded with the blanks and cocked, to the grate. I ran the fishing line from the trigger, back through the grate and across the alley to another grate at mid-calf high. I then parked my patrol car where I could see when he ran out the door, down the alley, tripped the trigger, and watch him pee his pants. I got much more than I was expecting!

Sure enough, like the predictable script of a cheap play, the Lt. called and then 10 or so minutes later, he called again. As soon as the Lt. started talking the second time, the side door flew open and Copeland hit the ground running, kicking up gravel as he went. I thought he was running fast, but when he tripped the wire,  that .22 sounded like a cannon in that alley. I believe his shoes would have "smoked and burned rubber" had he been on asphalt as his speed doubled. I swear it looked like he was at a 45 degree angle as he turned the corner of the alley into the street. I was already laughing uncontrollably from the time he cleared the side door, but when he suddenly stopped, flattened himself again the side of the building and drew his weapon, I almost choked. Then, like something out of a movie, he stuck the gun down the alley and fired all 6 shots in rapid order. He then ran to Jackson St., turned the corner and ran towards the Courthouse, where he told the Lt. he was. As he ran, he tried to tell the Lt. and everyone else on the radio that, "Some mother****** just shot at him and tried to kill him and he shot back."

As soon as Copeland turned the corner on Jackson St., I ran into the alley, cut the taped gun and line, put them in my pocket, drew my weapon, and advised the Lt. that I was securing the Morgan Street end of the alley, the end Copeland ran out. The Lt. and another officer secured the other end of the alley, while the Sargent came to my back up. After several long minutes of looking, we determined that no one had been in the alley. Copeland tried as best he could to explain that there had to be someone in the alley with him, but no one would believe him. He sort of had suspicions that we, or someone, wanted him dead, which we didn't. We just wanted him out of the donut shop. Either way, all worked out as he never went into the donut shop again. 

Not very long after that he was fired. Good riddance.