WOODHAVEN, Mich. — 20-year-old Justin Coppola of Fraser is accused of trying to run over a six-week-old kitten around 7:30 p.m. Thursday in a Meijer parking lot in Woodhaven all while an off-duty Taylor police officer and his wife looked on.
“Setting the cat on the ground, backing up trying to run it over, and then when he didn’t successfully run it over, he pulled forward and tried running it over again,” said Woodhaven Police Detective Alan Jackson.
Police say Coppola noticed the people watching him and took off. The off-duty officer followed and said Coppola was driving recklessly on Allen Road, nearly crashing into cars as he tried to get away.
Police say he then tried to get rid of the kitten again.
It was in the area of King and Millbury that the witness told police he saw Coppola throw the kitten out of his car window.
Police say the kitten hit the concrete and slid to the curb. They never were able to locate it. Coppola is now charged with torture, animal cruelty and reckless driving.
“Certainly we don’t believe that the animal has been killed. We don’t think the animal’s been seriously harmed, and our client vigorously disputes any intent to try to harm this animal,” said attorney Dana Nessel.
She said her client picked up the stray black and white kitten thinking he would give it a home, stopped for supplies at the store, but the kitten scratched him and he was trying to get the cat out of the car in the Meijer parking lot, not run it over.
“He was not trying to run over any cats. He was not trying to harm any cats, but we believe this is just an unfortunate situation where his actions and the events were misconstrued,” said attorney Chris Kessel.
Coppola’s attorneys also say their client panicked when someone started following him and stopped near King and Millbury to, again, get the cat out of the car.
Coppola’s bond was set at $50,000 ten percent. He is not allow to have any contact with animals pending his next court date, and his family has arranged for psychiatric counseling.