Arkansas Officer Investigating Fatal Shooting Sends Plea for Defense Fund

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.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)