Crime Line suit dropped

Published 10:48 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Crime Line tipster who sued the city after his identity was inadvertently revealed to the violent felon he had turned in has dropped his case.

However, his lawyer said they plan to re-file the lawsuit as soon as they “sew up some loose ends.”

“We stand by the facts,” attorney Jerrell R. Johnson said after a hearing Tuesday. “This was kind of a legal maneuver we wanted to make before we can proceed.”

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Terrance Copeland filed the suit against the city and Police Chief Thomas Bennett. He says he has been shot at, stalked and threatened as a result of the mistake.

According to the lawsuit, the tipster called the Crime Line on May 19, 2010 to give police information on the location of a wanted violent felon, Bubble Jones.

However, when Jones was arrested based on the caller’s information, the Crime Line form was inadvertently given to him in a stack of papers about his case.

City spokeswoman Debbie George said last year that the clerk who took the original call printed the form and put a copy into the warrant jacket, when it should have gone only to the Crime Line coordinator. The arresting officer was not familiar with the form and gave it to Jones along with the arrest warrants.

According to the lawsuit, Jones and members of his family confronted the tipster on May 25, 2010, telling him things such as “I’m going to make your life a living hell,” “I’m going to tell everyone that you’re a snitch” and “Watch your back.”

The lawsuit also states that the tipster’s home and vehicles have been repeatedly vandalized, he has received death threats and that Jones has had to be restrained from attacking the tipster in public. Copeland has moved out of Suffolk, the lawsuit states.

Finally, the lawsuit contends that gunshots intended for Copeland killed 25-year-old Alissa Johnson on July 28, 2010. Another man was wounded in the shooting.

George said earlier this year that police do not believe Johnson’s murder is related to the Crime Line case. However, no suspect has been arrested for her killing.

Bennett has made changes within the department to prevent such an incident from happening again, George said. He also has invited experts from other regional departments to inspect the city’s Crime Line program.