Arm wrapped and out of the hospital, Middletown ‘ambush’ suspect faced a judge for the first time

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Bond set at $1 million for man who allegedly stole police cruiser and crashed it into another police vehicle.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

His right arm heavily wrapped from his accident, a Middletown man who allegedly stole a police cruiser and then purposely crashed into another cruiser made his first appearance Wednesday morning in Middletown Municipal Court.

During a short arraignment, bond was set at $1 million for Jason Cooper, 49, who is charged with felonious assault, a second-degree felony; aggravated vehicular assault, a third-degree felony; grand theft felony, of the fourth degree; aggravated menacing, a first-degree misdemeanor; assault on a police officer, a fourth-degree felony; obstructing official business, resisting arrest, driving under suspension and criminal tools.

MORE: Middletown police ‘ambush’ crash: Suspect still in hospital under police guard

Visiting Judge J. Howard Sundermann set the bond at the request of the city prosecutor’s office, and before he set bond, the judge asked if Cooper was the man who allegedly stole the police cruiser before crashing into another cruiser.

Cooper was assigned attorney Sam Borst, and his preliminary hearing was set for March 13, though police believe the case probably will go directly to a Butler County grand jury.

Cooper’s arraignment was scheduled for March 1, the day after he allegedly committed the crimes. But he was receiving medical treatment for a punctured lung and injured right arm at Atrium Medical Center. He was guarded at the hospital until he was released Tuesday and transported to the Middletown City Jail.

He remained in the jail as of Wednesday afternoon, according to jail records.

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.

MORE: 911 caller before Middletown police cruiser theft: My boyfriend is ‘extremely drunk’

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.