Suspect shot by police was involved murder of cop's son

Suspect shot by police was involved murder of cop's son; recently out of prison
Sequna Copeland (SOURCE: TBI)
Sequna Copeland (SOURCE: TBI)

RIPLEY, TN (WMC) - One of Tennessee's Most Wanted fugitives, who Ripley police said they were forced to shoot, is out of the hospital. The Ripley, Tennessee, officer who was hurt in the incident is still in the hospital.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation officials did not release the extent of the officer's injuries. They said the officer was hit by the suspect's vehicle. He was taken to Regional Medical Center via helicopter Tuesday night, where he is still recovering.

TBI officials said Ripley officers received a tip about the location of wanted fugitive Sequna Copeland, who was listed on the TBI Top 10 Most Wanted.

Officials said a female driver drove off after the car was pulled over. The officer then ran after the car.

Another patrol car arrived to provide additional support, and the female driver began going in reverse toward the officer who was running after her. The officer then fired several shots at the suspects in the vehicle and was hit by the car.

The driver took off again toward two other officers. The officers then fired shots at the vehicle, hitting both suspects.

TBI officials identified the female driver as Stashia Piphus.

Both suspects were taken to the hospital in non-critical condition. According to officials at Regional Medical Center, Copeland has since been treated and was sent to jail.

"At least he's still alive," Copeland's grandmother Betty Dewalt said.

Other family members said the police could have handled it in a different way.

"They could have handled it in a proper way versus just started shooting him,"Copeland's stepfather L.C. Whitelow said.

Copeland has been on the run from police and the TBI since December 2014, just six months after his release from prison. He was sent to prison after pleading guilty to planning a murder that took the life of a police officer's son.

Copeland and his brother Terry pleaded guilty in connection to the 2008 murder of Brian Bond. Bond was the son of current Haywood County Sheriff Melvin Bond.

Terry Copeland is currently serving 20 years in prison for second-degree murder. Sequna Copeland pleaded guilty to facilitation of second-degree murder and was sentenced to eight years in prison. He was released in June 2014.

According to District Attorney Mike Dunavant, Copeland was indicted for a Hobbs Act Robbery, Accessory after the fact, and false declaration before a grand jury on August 27, 2015. All the charges stemmed from a robbery that occurred in Ripley in December 2014. Copeland was wanted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the United States Marshals and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Since 2007, Copeland has been arrested more than 10 times for everything from assault, drug charges, murder and even unlawful possession of a gun.

"I don't believe none of that. He was too good of a person to be doing that," Whitelow said. "He's no violent person. He wouldn't hurt nobody."

Dunavant said he believes Copeland will be placed in federal custody so he can face those outstanding federal charges.

But for some family members, they are grateful for one thing.

"I just want to thank God that he's alive," Copeland's mother Kathy Dewalt said.

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