Courtroom cleared by attempted assault during Cope sentencing - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Courtroom cleared by attempted assault during Cope sentencing

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Matthew Prunty, Jr., spoke to KSLA News 12's Fred Childers after the jury deadlocked during the penalty phase of Christopher Cope's trial. Matthew Prunty, Jr., spoke to KSLA News 12's Fred Childers after the jury deadlocked during the penalty phase of Christopher Cope's trial.
Christopher Cope was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of SPD Sgt. Timothy Prunty. Christopher Cope was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of SPD Sgt. Timothy Prunty.
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -

Sentencing for Christopher Cope was interrupted on Thursday afternoon by a member of the victim's family lunging at the convicted killer over a courtroom partition.

Cope was convicted last week in the 2010 shooting death of Shreveport Police Sgt. Timothy Prunty. The jury deadlocked in the sentencing phase of the trial, unable to come to a unanimous decision on life in prison or the death penalty. That resulted in an automatic life sentence for Cope. Thursday's hearing was his formal sentencing.

KSLA News 12's Fred Childers was in the Caddo Parish courtroom when Timothy Prunty's nephew, Matthew Prunty, Jr., dove over the partition at Cope, throwing punches but missing.

"This has been an emotional trial," said Cope's attorney in response to the outburst.

Childers reports that as several deputies converged on Prunty to subdue him, he could be heard yelling, "I missed him Uncle Tim, I missed him!"

Cope stood up and took a few steps off to the side as the deputies stepped in.

It all happened moments after Timothy Prunty's twin brother, Matthew Prunty Sr., had given his impact statement and Judge Mike Pitman had formally handed down a life sentence for Cope.

The struggle between Mathew Jr. and deputies lasted only a few seconds. During that time Mathew's dad, Mathew Sr. rushed over to him where he was told by a deputy that he wouldn't be hurt.

Prunty could have faced a contempt of court charge, which would have been a misdemeanor, but Judge Pitman refused to do so.

Also, the Cope family hadn't talked with the media -- until today.

Cope's mother, Sue, had this to say to the jury that could not agree on a death penalty sentence, in effect giving her son a life sentence.

"I appreciate every one of you. I know it was hard for all of you, for your families, to be without you. But I do thank you for saving my son's life," she says.

Sue Cope also wanted to let the Prunty family know that her heart goes out to them and that she feels for them.

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