Attorney says former Clarksville police officer takes responsibility for shoplifting, but doesn't plead guilty
Mike Popplewell made his first court appearance Tuesday on three theft charges.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The officer who resigned from the Clarksville Police Department plans to take full responsibility for shoplifting from Walmart, according to his lawyer, but he's not pleading guilty.
Mike Popplewell made his first court appearance Tuesday morning on three theft charges. Court records say that on Black Friday weekend, Popplewell is seen on surveillance video stealing a Fitbit, then returning it.
He's also accused of taking toys and jewelry from the Walmart on Veterans Parkway.
Popplewell was freelancing as a security officer for the store.
Last month he resigned from the Clarksville Police Department, and last week gave up his seat on the Clark County Council.
"He realized what he did was wrong, so I would suggest right now Michael Popplewell's penalty and punishment for what he did far exceeds what a normal person would expect, because what he's done is he's, on his own volition, given up a career," said attorney Larry Wilder.
Popplewell did not plead guilty this morning, but he plans to put up no defense.
"People make bad, bad decisions -- and there's not a lot of reasons why it happens sometimes," Wilder said. "He just got up one morning and made a bad decision."
But will Popplewell's more recent decisions get him leniency for the crime? Prosecutor Jeremy Mull says no, though jail time is not likely.
"I want the public to understand that this matter will be treated like all other matters similar to this," Mull said, before adding that, "many times in these cases, if it is the first offense -- shoplifting with no criminal history -- my office would offer a pre-trial diversion, or an offer of misdemeanor probation."
But Tuesday brought no resolution to the case. Popplewell is so familiar in the community and courtroom circles -- he even served as a resource officer for Clarksville Community Schools -- that Judge Joseph Weber had to recuse himself from the case.
When asked why the former officer didn't just plead guilty, Wilder had one answer.
"Because smart lawyers and good lawyers don't let clients do what they want to do."
The state will appoint a new judge from outside Clark County. Popplewell is due in court again next month.
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