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Man indicted in alleged 'ambush' incident that totaled 2 Middletown police cruisers

Damaged Middletown cruiser
Posted at 2:05 PM, Mar 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-13 14:05:41-04

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — A man has been indicted on multiple felony charges in connection with allegedly stealing a police cruiser and then purposely crashing into another cruiser.

Jason Cooper, 49, was indicted on Tuesday by a Butler County grand jury for two counts of felonious assault, aggravated robbery, grand theft, two counts of resisting arrest, two counts of vandalism, and possessing criminal tools, reports WCPO media partner the Journal-News.

Cooper’s bond was set at $1 million last week during an arraignment in Middletown Municipal Court. He was scheduled to be back in municipal court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing, but because a direct indictment was returned, that hearing did not happen.

Jason Cooper

On Feb. 28, Cooper’s girlfriend called 911 Middletown dispatchers claiming he was “extremely drunk,” slamming doors, yelling and cursing. When officer Patrick Glassburn arrived to the 100 block of Bavarian Street, the 911 caller stood on the second-floor balcony and told the officer her boyfriend was hiding in the bushes outside the apartment.

As Cooper hid, he listened to the police scanner on his cell phone, and Chief Rodney Muterspaw believes Cooper was going to “ambush” the officer. Cooper allegedly came out from behind the bushes and displayed a knife to the officer. Glassburn told Cooper to drop what he was carrying, and when he refused, he was shocked by Glassburn’s Taser, which was ineffective.

Cooper then got into the cruiser and crashed into a cruiser driven by Officer Ryan Morgan, who was responding to the disturbance call.

After the incident, Major David Birk said Middletown police would install anti-theft devices in its fleet of vehicles.

Birk said when officers leave their cruisers, they will activate the anti-theft mechanism that will lock the transmission. Birk said the vehicles won’t move until the hidden button is activated.

He said each device costs between $109 to $150, which was “cost effective” compared to replacing a cruiser.

The two 2018 Ford Explorer cruisers, both valued at $37,000, including police upgrades, were severely damaged during the incident. The department has had three cruisers stolen in the last 22 years, including in 1997 and 2011, Birk said.