A surveillance video obtained from University of North Florida Police shows two men taking a stack of newspapers from a dormitory on the university’s campus. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles confirmed that one of the men seen taking the Spinnaker newspapers is Florida State Trooper Steven Coppola. Detectives were able to determine Coppola’s identity by connecting him to a vehicle that is seen in the video.
“[UPD] contacted us just to say that there had been this incident, and that they had determined that it was an FHP member who was on this surveillance video, and we corroborated that he was,” said Leslie Palmer, the director of communication for the DHSMV.
"He was a student at one point and I don't think right away, but shortly after somebody realized this guy might be a FHP officer," Spielmaker said.
Coppola is a UNF graduate. He left a message for the Spinnaker explaining that he took the newspapers because he was concerned about an item in the police beat section about the arrest of his 25-year-old friend, Joshua Hott, for video voyeurism.
"There was an article in the police beat, there was a man named Joshua Hott, who was arrested for video taping someone using the restroom," Spielmaker said. "He said that he had taken the paper to cover up and protect Joshua Hott's brother, who is still a student."
The editor-in-chief of the Spinnaker, Jacob Harn, is deciding what to do next.
“We don’t think that justice has been served in this case, and whether it was 20, 100, or 2,600 papers that were taken, it’s still a form of censorship,” Harn said. “I see that our right to free speech — as outlined in the Constitution, the First Amendment — I see that that’s not safe either.”
A video of the theft is below: