Mom: shot GVSU son
‘never had chance’
Derek Copp not under arrest
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A Grand Valley State University student shot by an Ottawa County deputy told his parents he lifted his right arm to cover his eyes from a bright flashlight when the shot was fired.
He told them he didn’t know it was a police officer shining the light.
“He never even had a chance to even see who was coming at him, with a bright flashlight in his face,” Sheryl Copp, the mother of Derek Copp, told 24 Hour News 8. “He had no clue. He heard someone knock on his door, and he had no clue.”
The bullet entered the right side of Copp’s upper chest, broke ribs, ruptured his right lung and went through his liver, his parents said. It remained lodged in his lower back, nearly protruding through his skin, they said.
Doctors, they said, were planning to remove the bullet Friday.
Copp, 20, is the middle of three sons of George and Sheryl Copp of Spring Arbor. He hopes to make movies someday, his parents said.
“Derek’s a great kid; he’s really smart; he’s a hard worker,” George Copp said. “They portray him as something he’s not. He’s not perfect, like any kid.
“From what I understand, half the kids in the school may smoke pot, and he does, he may, too, but he’s not a drug dealer. He’s a good kid and he shouldn’t have been shot for that.”
Copp told his parents that he and his roommate were studying when police knocked on his door.
The deputy, a 12-year veteran, was among five members of the West Michigan Enforcement Team who raided Copp’s apartment at Campus View Apartments just south of the GVSU campus. They had obtained a search warrant to look for narcotics, state police said.
They were entering about 9 p.m. Wednesday through the rear sliding door when the deputy, whose name was not released, fired one shot, police said. That deputy is on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.
Police would not say what kinds of drugs they were looking for or whether they found any evidence of narcotics in the apartment. Copp has not been arrested, nor is there a police guard outside his hospital room.
They said they don’t know whether the deputy felt threatened by Copp, who lived in the apartment.
Copp’s parents said they didn’t learn about the shooting until just before 3 a.m. Thursday — six hours later. They said a nurse and their son called from the hospital. Copp told his parents he gave police their home number and cell phone numbers. They questioned why police did not call them.
“My son had to call us from his hospital bed that he’d been shot,” Sheryl Copp said.
The Copps immediately headed to the hospital from Spring Arbor. “It was the longest two-hour drive of our entire lives.”
Copp has no criminal record. “He’s a ‘today-hippie,'” his mother said. “He’s a peace-loving guy who wouldn’t hurt a fly if it landed on his nose.”
State police continue to investigate the shooting, which they say is going slowly.
“There is a process that has to be followed,” said Capt. Gary Gorski, head of the state police Sixth District headquarters. “The process is not necessarily a quick process.”
When asked if the Ottawa County deputy who fired the shot was talking with investigators, he said, “Not necessarily. They have rights like anybody else does.”
George Copp said his son is awake, but the injuries are considered life-threatening. He’s “doing pretty good, considering.”
As for Copp, he has been in good spirits since the shooting, his parents said. In fact, he told them, “I’m going to make a movie about this.”
His mother said, “He’s really funny, and even though he was in such bad shape, he kept his humor. He had everybody laughing.”