A Florida State Trooper has confessed to taking copies of the University of North Florida campus newspaper — The Spinnaker — to protect a friend charged with video voyeurism.
The Spinnaker reports that a security camera caught UNF alumnus and current State Trooper Steven Coppola removing a stack of newspaper from a campus dorm (Coppola is the man on the right in the blue shirt).
Over 2,800 copies of the June 12 issue of the Spinnaker have been reported missing.
After being identified, Coppola reached out to the Spinnaker to explain his actions, saying that he was trying to protect 25-year-old Joshua Hott, a friend who had been featured in the issue’s Police Beat for “taking video of an 18 year-old male as he was using the restroom.”
The Police Beat blurb describes how Hott used his cell phone to record the occupant of a campus bathroom stall, who quickly ran screaming into the building’s lobby while Hott attempted to flee and simultaneously pull up his pants. Hott was then restrained by the victim and his two parents until the police arrived. According to the Spinnaker:
Coppola said he was concerned about how the coverage might affect Hott’s younger brother, who is currently a UNF student. Coppola and a friend decided to take the papers to prevent the story from getting out— a decision Coppola said he regrets.
As College Media Matters points out, it is unclear what, if anything, will happen to Coppola. A spokesperson for the Florida Highway Patrol emphasised to the Spinnaker that Copolla was off duty when he took the papers, and the department will only initiate an internal investigation in the case of a crime. Before Coppola had been identified, the Florida State Attorney determined that because the papers were free, no crime had been committed by removing them and the case would not be prosecuted.
Editor’s note: This post was updated on August 5 to reflect that Coppola had admitted to taking the papers from the box in the surveillance video, and to clarify that no crime was committed.
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