‘Possessed driver’ steals police cruiser, taunts police over radio

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) — A Springfield man stole a police cruiser and drove around the city while taunting police over the radio after officers responded to a disturbance between him and his girlfriend early Thursday morning. Officers Shelley Whitley and Christopher Roberts responded to the disturbance on Laurelton Street at about 4 a.m. and were greeted by a woman who said she wanted her boyfriend removed from her home, according to Springfield police Sgt. John Delaney.

Police escorted 27-year-old Michael Kopeski, who was initially cooperative, from the residence to wait outside. He asked police if he could re-enter the home to retrieve his belongings, but police denied his request to ensure the altercation had ended. That’s when Kopeski became outraged and began to yell at the officers, calling them ‘pigs.’ He walked toward their cruiser that was running in the driveway and spit on the vehicle. Police told Kopeski to calm down and to relax, but he responded by threatening to steal their police car. As he walked over to the driver’s door, one of the officers locked the door with a remote, but Kopeski was able to get inside the vehicle when he pulled the handle, Delaney said.

Kopeski stepped on the gas and began to pull away from the officers, but not before Whitley was able to open the passenger door and shoot pepper spray toward him. “The spray had no effect on the possessed driver,” Delaney said. Officer Roberts was unable to open the driver’s door after Kopeski locked it. “Mr. Kopeski had successfully stolen the police car on a bitter cold night,” Delaney said.

The officers radioed the last location where the car was heading and during the next 20 minutes Kopeski used the police radio to taunt the officers and disrupt radio transmissions. Police were able to pinpoint his location and K-9 Officer Scott Stelzer spotted the stolen cruiser operating on Berkshire Avenue near Holly Street. Officers in the area were able to block the stolen cruiser from moving with their cruisers at the intersection of Berkshire Avenue and Page Boulevard.

Kopeski refused to open the door to the locked cruiser and Sgt. Scott Richard was forced to break the passenger window in order to reach inside and turn the ignition off. Kopeski still would not cooperate and threw punches at the officers. He fought with police until they were able to place him into custody, injuring two of the officers.

“Mr. Kopeski then got another ride in a police car, this time in the rear seat, cuffed,” Delaney said.

Kopeski, of 2033 Page Blvd., was charged with larceny of a motor vehicle, failure to stop for police, resisting arrest and four counts of assault and battery on a police officer.

“The police officers involved in this arrest did an outstanding job getting this suspect under arrest in a very short time,” Delaney said.

Kopeski was held pending his arraignment in Springfield District Court on Thursday.

By Chris Rueli