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Seeking Night in Warm Cell, Man Faces 5-Year Term With AM-Cold Rdp

December 28, 1989

LONGWOOD, Fla. (AP) _ All Robert Cooper wanted to do was start a ruckus, get arrested and spend one of Florida’s coldest nights in a warm jail cell.

But police say the unemployed roofer went too far and now faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Cooper, 36, who has lived in several Florida cities since moving from the North in September, said he came up with the idea of getting arrested Saturday night while sitting in a grocery store in this Orlando suburb.

″I figured I would get arrested for disturbing the peace,″ Cooper said. ″I did not want to get arrested for doing anything violent.″

Because of a power failure, police were directing traffic at the busy intersection near the store. Cooper walked into the road, refused to leave and wound up hitting an officer in the mouth during a scuffle, police said.

He was charged with battery on an officer and resisting arrest with violence.

Cooper denied hitting the officer, claiming that he himself was punched in the head.

He said that before the scuffle, he asked police to take him to jail but that they refused.

″No way in the world I would even think about hitting a police officer,″ he said Thursday from jail.

Police Lt. Butch Yelvington said Cooper never asked police for their help. Officers would have tried to get him transportation to a shelter if he had, Yelvington said. ″All he asked for was to go to jail,″ he said.

Cooper, whose next court appearance is in mid-January, said: ″I guess my idea backfired. I had no idea I would have to spend this much time in jail.″

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