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Cooper Is Arrested in Domestic Dispute : Jurisprudence: Former Laker star, wife involved in incident at their New Mexico home.

August 02, 1994|CHRIS BAKER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Michael Cooper, former Laker star and current assistant coach, was arrested for battery and assault last week after allegedly threatening his wife with a vase during a domestic dispute at their vacation home near Albuquerque, N.M., according to a police report released Monday.

The report said a Corrales, N.M., police officer saw Cooper pull his wife, Wanda, off a bed by her ankle and raise his fist toward her before being restrained Wednesday night.

The report said Cooper threatened his wife with a vase after officer Bruce Ellis arrived in response to a late-night call.

The dispute was triggered when Cooper became angry by his wife's request that he attend an Alcoholics' Anonymous meeting with her, the report said.

Police said Cooper referred to his wife with a crude phrase and used profanity when he told Ellis, "That . . . . goes to AA and now tries to tell me that I . . . . need help."

Michael Cooper could not be reached for comment. Wanda Cooper described the dispute to the Associated Press as an argument that escalated.

"They make it sound as if the man was absolutely killing me," she said. "That's not the case at all."

She said her husband's conduct was completely out of character.

"Michael has never expressed anger like that," she said. "This is a total aberration of who he is."

The Coopers later issued a joint statement through their Albuquerque-based attorney Joe Lang, denying that Cooper struck his wife.

"While this incident is truly regrettable, it should be made clear that Michael never hit Wanda and that Wednesday night's activities were truly an aberration," the statement said. "Sometimes, people who have been married for many years have problems like everyone else. Unfortunately, just because you're a public couple, like Michael and Wanda Cooper, you're not immune."

Ellis said when he arrived at the house, the front door was open, and he could hear voices from the bedroom.

After knocking on the door, the officer said he heard a "male voice later identified as (Michael Cooper) shout, 'Go answer the door . . . .' "

After Ellis identified himself, he said Cooper responded: "I don't give a . . . . about no police, go answer the . . . . door."

Wanda Cooper began crying after seeing the officer and ran toward him. Police said Cooper ordered his wife to return, saying: "Oh, now you cry because the police are here, get back in the . . . . room."

Cooper's wife ran past the officer and back into the bedroom, the report said.

After the officer told Cooper he was responding to a domestic dispute, Cooper said, "That's right because the . . . . is trying to tell me that I need help."

At one point, Cooper jumped to his feet, grabbed his wife's right ankle with his left hand and pulled her from the bed and onto the floor, the report said.

Police reported that Wanda Cooper began crying after her husband raised his right hand in a fist and said, "Please, don't hit me, baby. Please don't."

Later, Cooper grabbed a small vase from on top of a wardrobe and "reared back his hand as though he were going to strike the victim," the report said.

Cooper, 38, was handcuffed and taken to Sandoval County Jail where he was booked before being released on bond. Marco Banales, police spokesman, said he believed a court date was being set.

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