Cooper v. State

In Cooper v. State, 595 P.2d 648 (Alaska 1979) the defendant fired five shots towards three police officers. Cooper was convicted under the former criminal code of three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon. (Id. at 649; former AS 11.15.220.) The defendant was convicted of three counts of assault for shooting a firearm at a group of three approaching state troopers. 543 P.2d at 649. Under the former code, assault with a dangerous weapon was defined as using a dangerous weapon with the intent of causing bodily harm or causing the apprehension of immediate bodily harm. Cooper argued that he only committed one assault because he only intended to assault one of the officers. The supreme court held that "the act of firing one shot toward three people will support three convictions if the actor's intent is to cause injury or apprehension of imminent injury to all three persons." The supreme court held that a single act could support three separate convictions, a separate conviction for each victim. (Id. at 650.) The supreme court first ruled that a single assaultive act directed at three people would support three separate convictions. 648 P.2d at 649-650. The supreme court then rejected Cooper's alternative argument that he should not receive consecutive sentences for these three assaults: "Cooper contends ... that the shooting was one event with one intent. However, our determination ... that the evidence supported a finding of an intent to harm or frighten three people, a finding necessary to support three convictions, disposes of this sentencing issue. In Davenport v. State, 543 P.2d 1204, 1209 (Alaska 1975), we rejected the suggestion that even though separate convictions are proper, a different analysis is required to determine whether separate sentences are. We see no reason for such a rule". Cooper, 595 P.2d at 650.