After admitting guilt, an Aryan Brotherhood member was sentenced this week to 20 years in a Georgia prison for shooting at a black man whose car momentarily blocked a driveway.
Christopher Scott Copson, who was indicted on 12 criminal counts in February, struck a plea deal and pleaded guilty to 11 of the charges on Monday — the day he was set to go to trial in Meriwether County, Georgia.
He was charged with violating the Georgia Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act, along with aggravated assault, possession of a firearm by a felon, criminal damage to property and other counts.
Under the negotiated plea, Copson will serve 20 years in prison to be followed by 10 years of supervised release, according to Herb Cranford, district attorney for Georgia’s Coweta Judicial Circuit.
Authorities say Copson is a confirmed member of the Aryan Brotherhood (AB), described by the FBI as the most dangerous group of its kind in the United States. Its various racist-gang offshoots, including the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, are modeled after a California-based prison gang formed during the 1960s.
AB members now carry out criminal enterprises in and out of prisons in a variety of states.
Copson’s sentencing came two years after he repeatedly shot a firearm at a black man, missing him but striking his vehicle in Meriwether County, southwest of Atlanta.
On Sept. 18, 2016, Copson and two co-defendants happened upon the victim, who had inadvertently blocked a driveway the defendants were trying to leave in their car, authorities said.
After driving by, the defendants stopped about fifty yards away and Copson fired two rounds from a .38 pistol at the victim’s vehicle. The victim called 911 and followed the defendants’ vehicle, only to be fired upon again. The additional rounds only struck the victim’s vehicle.
Moments later, when law enforcement officers stopped the defendants’ vehicle, Copson “repeatedly uttered heinous racial slurs directed toward the victim, making clear that the victim’s race was [Copson’s] only motivation for this cowardly act of violence,” Cranford said in his statement.
In the vehicle, officers found a stolen .38 pistol, which Copson admitted purchasing from another Aryan Brotherhood member, investigators said.
Three months before his arrest, Copson told Coweta County Sheriff’s Office investigators that he was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood and displayed tattoos consistent with his membership in that gang. In 2010, he told the Georgia Department of Corrections that he was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood “to better [his] race and [his] heritage.”
“This successful prosecution of another member of a criminal street gang … proves once again that [our office] is committed to protecting the public from these criminal gangs in whatever form they come,” Cranford said in a statement.
“This case is a reminder that the State of Georgia is in a state of crisis which has been caused by violent criminal street gangs,” Cranford said.
“We must not wish away this crisis but recognize it for what it is and dedicate the resources necessary on the local level to empower law enforcement and prosecutors to remove violent gang members like Christopher Copson from free society,” he added.