ST. FRANCIS -- A St. Francis man is accused of threatening officers with a fluorescent light bulb after he was kicked out of a bar in St. Francis -- and taken to the hospital by police for medical clearance.
Eric Kopp, 27, faces three charges:
- Resisting an officer
- Disorderly conduct
- Battery to a law enforcement officer
According to a criminal complaint, on April 9 around 7:45 p.m., police learned of a male arguing with a bartender and refusing to leave the Neighborhood Bar on S. Pennsylvania Avenue near E. Layton Avenue in St. Francis. Police spoke with the bartender, who pointed out a man at the bar -- later identified as Kopp. The bartender said she wanted Kopp removed because he was causing problems. When officers asked Kopp to step outside, the complaint said he argued and refused.
"He told me he wasn't going anywhere. At some point, he leaned over the bar in my face," said Michelle Cesar, bartender.
"This place is not that type of vibe. Things don't get out of hand here," said Warren Johnston, owner of the bar. "We are lucky to have not had to deal with that before."
A witness said Kopp had been harassing the bartender, and "was being very rude," yelling and swearing in the bar. The witness said at one point, Kopp stood up to get in the bartender's face. Other witnesses offered the same account, and said Kopp's actions were disruptive.
"Shock. I had known this customer before, and we've never had any problems with him," said Johnston. "It was just...something that was out of my comprehension."
When officers tried to escort Kopp out of the bar, the complaint said he pulled away and pushed an officer. When officers tried taking him into custody, the complaint said he resisted, locking his arms and hands and lying on them.
"He was fighting three of them and they told him they were going to (use a Taser on) him," said Cesar.
The officers had to use a Taser on Kopp, who ultimately complied with the arrest.
He was taken to the hospital for medical clearance, and while there, the complaint said he continually stated, "Just take me to jail." He was advised they couldn't leave until he was medically cleared.
At one point, the complaint said Kopp locked himself in the bathroom and began yelling, and officers heard a "breaking" sound. Officers got a key for the bathroom, and when the door was opened, a security officer yelled, "What are you doing? Get out of the ceiling!" The complaint said Kopp was wielding a florescent light bulb, holding it like a baseball bat and stating, "Get the (expletive) back," before slamming the door shut. An officer was able to enter from a door on the other side, and when he opened it, he saw Kopp still holding the bulb. A Taser was deployed, but it malfunctioned. The complaint said Kopp began swinging the bulb like a baseball bat, and it shattered on the officer's arm. Kopp then charged the officer, who was eventually able to take Kopp into custody.
"I'd like to see him get the help that he needs," said Johnston.
Kopp made his initial appearance in court on April 13. His defense team pleaded not guilty to the resisting and disorderly conduct charges -- the two misdemeanors. Probable cause was found for further proceedings. A $1,500 signature bond was set, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for April 30.