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Judge keeps $1M bond for teenager

A Brookhaven city judge Tuesday kept bond at $1 million for a teenager charged with armed robbery and assault on a police officer.

Bryston Cooper, who turned 16 Sunday, remains in Lincoln County Jail.

Judge Brad Boerner read affidavits from Brookhaven police officers that explained the incidences related to the two felony charges.

Officer LaToya Beacham said in the affidavit that Cooper is accused of taking $259 from a man on or about Oct. 15 while exhibiting a green and black 9 mm pistol.

Sgt. Jonathan Alford said in a second affidavit that on Oct. 15 Cooper attempted to cause bodily injury to an officer who was attempting to serve an arrest warrant on the defendant by “leaning over from the front passenger seat and pressing the accelerator of the vehicle.”

Police Chief Kenneth Collins said Oct 16 that Cooper is accused of committing the crimes while wearing an electronic ankle monitor. He said police officer and members of the Special Response Team arrested Cooper Oct. 15 around 9 p.m. at the B-Kwik convenience store on Hwy. 51.

“He reached over and tried to hit the gas with his hand,” Collins said after Cooper’s arrest. “He tried to run over one of our officers. If it wouldn’t have been for the driver holding his foot on the brake, he would have ran over the officer.”

Boerner explained the reason Cooper was in city court Tuesday to the teenage defendant and his mother, who was in the audience of the municipal courtroom in the Lincoln County Justice Court building.

“Anytime a felony is committed by someone who is under the age of 18 with a firearm, you’re not in youth court. You’re automatically in circuit court. They cannot send it to youth court. Even if the district attorney wants to, he can’t,” Boerner said.

Cooper, wearing handcuffs attached to a waist chain, argued that he did not have a firearm at the time of the burglary.

“How can they charge me with armed robbery? I didn’t have a firearm. It wasn’t over $500. It was $290. I got the money and I took off running,” he said.

“That’s something you’re going to want to talk to your attorney about. That’s not something I can help you with,” Boerner told him.

Because Cooper does not have a job, property or money, the judge appointed public defender Jason Barrett to represent the teenager.

He kept bond at $1 million.

“Hear me quick, because you’re not going to like this,” he told Cooper and his mother. “Bond is not a punishment. It is not. Bond is insurance on what’s it going to take to get you to be where you’re supposed to be and what’s it going to take to keep you out of trouble if you make bond.”

Boerner said Cooper already had a warrant out for his arrest in municipal court for moving violations and was placed on probation but did not report to the court. Cooper missed a contempt hearing in June and is waiting to be sentenced for that, he said.

He considers Cooper a “highest level flight risk” and did not think the defendant would stay out of trouble if he received a lower bond.

Before heading back to lockup, Cooper told his mother “I love you” across the courtroom and she responded with the same, telling him she’d put some money on his jail account.

“Tell my daddy to come get me,” he yelled at her as he headed through the door to the jail.

“No, not at no million dollars,” she said.

Boerner scheduled Cooper’s preliminary hearing for Nov. 12 in the same courtroom. At that time he will revisit the bond amount.