Lake Havasu City Police say a California man involved in a traffic stop lied to officers about being a member of the military before he was arrested on felony charges.
According to police, an expired vehicle registration led to felony charges for Mark R. Copland, 40, of Novato, California. During his traffic stop, he allegedly tried to flee from police after he falsely identified himself as a service member from the Twentynine Palm military base in San Bernardino County.
According to the police report, Lake Havasu City patrol officers saw a vehicle near the intersection of Lake Havasu Avenue and McCulloch Boulevard early Sunday. A records check showed the vehicle to have expired registration. Officers followed the vehicle to the intersection, where its driver – identified as Copland – allegedly failed to come to a complete stop.
Once Copland was past the intersection, police say he turned right onto Lake Havasu Avenue and accelerated. Police say Copland was traveling at almost 50 miles per hour in the 25-mile-per-hour zone, and failed to remain in the proper lane. Officers stopped Copland at a parking lot near the intersection of Swanson Boulevard and Lake Havasu Avenue.
According to the report, officers smelled an “overwhelming odor” of alcohol and a “moderate odor” of marijuana emitting from Copland’s vehicle when they attempted to speak with him. The report says that officers also noticed several empty beer cans on the vehicle’s floorboard.
Copland allegedly said the vehicle he was driving belonged to a friend, and said the empty cans of alcohol did not belong to him.
When asked for his license, registration and proof of insurance, Copland allegedly presented officers with a driver’s license that may have been stolen, the report said.
Police say Copland identified himself to officers with a false name, and said he was a military firefighter stationed in Twentynine Palms, California. He was allegedly unable to provide registration for the vehicle to officers.
During a search of Copland’s vehicle, officers found an empty bottle of whiskey in addition to the empty cans of alcohol. Also found was a container of pills, for which Copland was unable to provide proof of a prescription, police said.
Officers informed Copland that he would be taken to jail, and he was led to a waiting patrol cruiser. According to the police report, Copland attempted to sprint away from officers, running about 60 yards before he was tackled to the ground by Lake Havasu City Police Officer Brian Ramirez.
According to the police report, Ramirez’ uniform pants were damaged, and Ramirez suffered bruising and an abrasion to his knee while tackling Copland.
Copland was taken into custody, and transported to Lake Havasu City Jail on suspicion of DUI, attempted escape from law enforcement and possession of prescription pills.
Officers contacted Twentynine Palms military personnel from the jail. Those officials could find no servicemen in a database matching the name Copland had originally given to officers. Copland was allegedly asked for his Social Security number, which he was unable to provide. When asked which branch of the military Copland served in, he allegedly replied: “Desert operations.”
According to the police report, a lieutenant from Twentynine Palms attempted to speak with Copland, but Copland said nothing throughout the conversation. Officers confronted Copland about whether he served in the military at all, the report said, and Copland refused to answer further questions on the subject.
During a search of Copland’s wallet, officers allegedly found a credit card and veteran’s identification card. The photo of the veteran’s ID card showed an older man, who Copland later identified as his father.
Police learned Copland’s true identity after further investigation, and allegedly learned that his driver’s license was revoked after previous DUI convictions.
As of Wednesday, Copland remained in custody at Mohave County Jail on $10,000 bond. He is now awaiting trial on felony charges including identity theft, possession of prescription drugs, aggravated DUI and third-degree attempted escape. Copland was also charged with one count of aggravated assault against an officer due to injuries suffered by Officer Ramirez while taking Copland into custody.