Middletown man receives ‘pretty significant sentence’ for stealing, crashing police cruiser

A Middletown man was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay more than $31,000 in restitution to the city of Middletown after he admitted guilt in stealing a police cruiser and purposely crashing into another.

Jason Cooper, 50, was 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.

Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Charles Pater sentenced Cooper on Tuesday. Besides the prison sentence, Cooper’s driving license was suspended for three years, and he was ordered to pay $31,660 to the city of Middletown to offset the cost of the vehicles he damaged, according to court documents.

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He was credited with 488 days served. He has been held in lieu of a $250,000 bond since the February 2019 incident.

Middletown police Chief David Birk said he was thankful no one was seriously injured in the incident and he believes the “justice process worked in this case.”

He also was pleased Cooper must pay the city back what its insurance policy didn’t cover on the two cruisers.

Last week, Cooper pleaded guilty to all charges in exchange for a sentence of six years in prison. After agreeing to the plea and consulting with the prosecution, defense and Middletown police officers, Pater called six years “a pretty significant sentence.”

Cooper was scheduled to go to trial in November, but his attorney asked to withdraw due to health reasons. Cooper’s new attorney, Richard Hyde, was in court with him when the plea was entered.

On Feb. 28, 2019, Cooper’s girlfriend called 911 claiming he was “extremely drunk,” slamming doors, yelling and cursing, according to police. When Officer Patrick Glassburn arrived at the 100 block of Bavarian Street, the 911 caller stood on the second-floor balcony and told the officer Cooper was hiding in the bushes outside the apartment.

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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.

Cooper then got into the cruiser and crashed into another cruiser driven by Officer Ryan Morgan, who was responding to the disturbance call. The cruisers were severely damaged in the incident.

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