April 29, 2006 - Posted at 1:33 p.m. CST
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) _ The Arkansas State Police trooper in
charge of investigating a colleague's fatal shooting of an unarmed
mentally disabled man has distributed an e-mail that tells other
law enforcement officers how they can donate to the indicted
trooper's defense fund.
Sergeant Steve Coppinger led the state police investigation of
Trooper Larry Norman's March Seventh shooting of Joseph Erin
Hamley. Shortly after Norman was indicted by a grand jury after
that panel's own investigation, Coppinger forwarded an e-mail to
other officers that asks for donations to help Norman.
Coppinger says he doesn't see any conflict in his actions. He
says he sent the e-mail for informational purposes and he didn't
ask anyone to contribute to the fund. Also, he says, the state
police investigation had ended by that time.
State police spokesman Bill Sadler says an inquiry is underway
to determine whether Coppinger violated a policy that bans
employees from using police equipment to send e-mails or files
unrelated to work.
Trooper Norman shot Hamley, believing Hamley was an armed
Michigan fugitive. Norman is facing a count of negligent homicide.