Arrest report describes violent struggle with chase suspect

Published: Sep. 10, 2014 at 8:16 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2014 at 8:00 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - An arrest report released Thursday by Lubbock police reveals that Martin Coppola, 50, was punched in the face approximately 15 times with a closed fist when he refused to surrender after a high speed chase.

The chase started around 2:30 p.m. Monday, when an officer tried to pull Coppola over near the Coronado Inn at Erskine and I-27.

Coppola was driving a Nissan Pathfinder. Police say the newer vehicle attracted their attention compared to other vehicles in the area. They thought it might be stolen so they ran the plates and tracked it to an address in Vintage Township.

They saw a man get into the vehicle and followed. When the vehicle failed to signal, they tried to pull it over. Coppola sped off when he noticed the officer.

Officers chased Coppola to 114th and Indiana Avenue, but ended the pursuit out of concern for public safety.

Police then drove to Coppola's house in Vintage Township, near 114th and Quaker Avenue, where they found he had switched vehicles.

They found Coppola in the area, driving an older, yellow pickup truck, and resumed the chase when he refused to stop.

Police say Coppola then got out of the truck and led police on a short chase on foot.

Police say Coppola reached to the right side of his body during the chase and they saw a black pistol in his hand as they attempted to taze him for the first time.

Police say Coppola was wearing a holster and a cartridge belt with a military bayonet.

Police brought Coppola to the ground and took his pistol, but Coppola had put his hand to his chest under his body and police could not tell if he was reaching for another weapon.

Police say Coppola was "refusing to listen or cooperate to any of the officers commands to him."

One officer involved in the struggle said, "I continued to punch Martin in the face with a closed fist to gain compliance as I feared he had another weapon he was holding underneath him. I punched Martin approximately 15 times until he complied and officers on scene were finally able to get his hands from underneath him."

Police said they had to use the weight of their bodies to keep Coppola in place. He was tazed at least three times during the struggle. The nature of his resistance led them to believe his actions were the result of substance abuse.

Police eventually got Coppola handcuffed and took him into custody.

Coppola was taken for medical treatment and booked into the Lubbock County Detention Center just after 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Coppola is facing charges of evading and resisting arrest, along with a weapons charge.

The Executive Director for Communications at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center says that Coppola was placed on administrative leave as of Tuesday, Sept. 9. Coppola held the position of associate professor in Allied Health Sciences.

Coppola was released on bond early Friday morning.

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