Community reaction following Mayor Bubba Copeland controversy, death

Published: Nov. 7, 2023 at 10:18 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SMITHS STATION, Ala. (WTVM) -The city of Smiths Station and communities nearby are mourning the loss of Mayor Bubba Copeland, but at least two women are grappling with a mix of emotions including feeling they have been victimized.

Copeland took his life in Lee County on Friday, Nov. 3, in the midst of controversy surrounding online posts.

Flowers and notes of remembrance could be found outside the entrance to Smiths Station City Hall on Nov. 6 in memory of Copeland.

Copeland took his life following a chase involving Lee County Sheriff’s deputies. Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones explained what happened after his deputies attempted a welfare check.

“An attempt was made to pull the vehicle over, to get him to stop. There was a pursuit, low speed. A pursuit that lasted approximately two minutes. At the end of that period, he pulled over on the side of the road, exited his vehicle, he had a handgun, and at that point, he took his life,” said Jones.

The incident happened days after an online report from 1819 News, shared photos of Copeland dressed as a woman and reports that he featured local women as the subjects of online fiction.

Ansley Summerlin said she was shocked to find out her name and photos had been posted online without her permission.

“I had some people start sending me photos that were posted of me on multiple porn sites, I guess you could say, that also had pictures of Brittini, as well. He proceeded to use my first and middle name on these sites, and I believe there are about nine sites now that I have about 5 or 6 photos of my face and my name across the internet,” she said.

An employee of a local hair salon in Smiths Station did not want to be identified, but said her name was used without her knowledge in an online story she believes was written by Copeland.

“It said my first and last name, and it was basically describing the way that I look, and then, intensified, I guess, as a porn star, and it went into very graphic detail. I didn’t get past the first page, because I honestly couldn’t stomach it,” she said.

Jones said the facts and evidence will be given to the Lee County District Attorney and all the facts will be laid before a grand jury for review.

“We’re going through our standard process in that investigation. We will gather all the facts available and evidence that we have. That will be presented to the District Attorney and a Lee County Grand Jury will review all the details of this investigation at a future date,” he said.

A public visitation will be held on Nov. 8 at Vance Brooks Funeral Home in Phenix City. The funeral will be held Thursday at First Baptist Church of Phenix City at 3 p.m. EST.