Fired Northstar employee jailed
A grounds maintenance employee at Northstar-at-Tahoe was arrested Monday after he stole a loader from the ski resort, assaulted a police officer and resisted arrest.
Richard J. Copeland, 36, of Truckee, had been hired two weeks before as a driver for the loader. This was his first season as a Northstar employee.
Copeland was terminated early Monday morning, and was asked to leave the property.
Copeland was identified later that morning at the controls of a front-end loader that was racing through the parking lot with the blade down, according to a Placer County Sheriff’s Department report.
Northstar personnel said Copeland refused to leave. Northstar security contacted Placer County Sheriff’s Department deputies, who determined Copeland had an outstanding felony warrant for parole violation.
Law enforcement personnel arrived and found Copeland by a pay phone.
After being told he was under arrest, Copeland cooperated, but then pulled away and began fighting, said PCSO Public Affairs Officer Detective Sgt. Jeff Granum.
Copeland hit Placer County Deputy David Hunt in the chest and head several times, cutting his lower lip and chipping his tooth. Copeland then fled the scene on foot.
Nevada County Sheriff’s Office and California Highway Patrol were contacted, and cooperated in a search for the suspect.
Copeland was found hiding under a condominium porch shortly after the incident.
“It was snowing pretty heavy so it was pretty easy to follow his tracks,” Detective Sgt. Granum said.
After Copeland refused to come out, officers used pepper spray, crawled under the porch and apprehended the suspect. He was taken to Tahoe Forest Hospital for examination and then to jail.
Copeland has been booked for violating parole, resisting arrest, battery of a police officer and grand theft. He has not been charged with trespassing.
No damages have been reported.
Northstar was not aware of Copeland’s history of misconduct, or that he had a felony warrant for violating parole, said Erin Bernall, communications manager at Northstar. The warrant, issued March 2, likely occurred after Copeland gained employment with the ski resort.
“As far as the reasons for termination we cannot disclose that information,” Bernall said.
Placer County officials said Copeland did not show up for his last four days of work prior to his termination Monday.
“We are diligent about background checks,” Bernall added. “Employment is contingent on a clean check, not only at Northstar but Booth Creek, and we have no tolerance for misbehavior.”
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