Trial date set for man charged in Middletown police ‘ambush’

A new trial date has been set for a man facing multiple felony charges for allegedly stealing a Middletown police cruiser and purposely crashing into another.

Jason Cooper, 50, who has remained in the county jail in lieu of a $250,000 bond since the February incident, is charged with two counts of felonious assault, aggravated robbery, grand theft, two counts of resisting arrest, two counts of vandalism and possession of criminal tools.

Cooper’s trial was scheduled to begin in November in Butler County Common Pleas Judge Charles Pater’s court. But his attorney, James Cooney, asked for a continuance and to withdraw from the case, citing health issues,.

On Tuesday, Cooper was back in court with new attorney Richard Hyde, and Pater set trial for April 1.

Hyde said he may also file some motions, and a pre-trial hearing was set for March 17.

MORE: Insanity plea ‘will not fly’ for Middletown man accused of stealing, crashing police cruiser

On Feb. 28, Cooper’s girlfriend called Middletown 911 dispatchers claiming he was “extremely drunk,” slamming doors, yelling and cursing, according to police. 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. Former police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said he believed Cooper was preparing 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, Glassburn used his Taser, which was ineffective.

MORE: Middletown ‘ambush” attack on officers comes at a steep cost, 2 totaled cruisers, new anti-theft devices

Cooper then got into the cruiser and crashed into another cruiser driven by Officer Ryan Morgan, who was responding to the disturbance call.

Cooper had pleaded not guilty to the charges by reason of insanity, but a doctor determined he was competent to stand trial. In July, Cooper’s first attorney, Robert Qucsai III, withdrew the not guilty plea.

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