CANNABIS CULTURE – Ex-narcotics officer Barry Cooper is fuming over a police raid on his home and plans to sue the officers and officials involved for $30 million, calling their conduct “obvious retaliation” for a sting operation he pulled on Texas police for his show KopBusters.
“We are going to sue every Williamson County officer involved in the raid, the judges who signed my warrants, the sheriffs department, and the jail for false imprisonment,” Cooper told Cannabis Culture. “According to my lawyers, it will be about $30 million.”
Cooper, who served almost a decade as a drug enforcement officer before renouncing his past and becoming a marijuana activist, was arrested last week by Williamson County officers who claimed he filed a false police report during the setup for an episode of his Internet show that targets corrupt cops.
After arresting Cooper for the misdemeanor, 10 or more officers raided his home with guns pointed at his wife and seven-year-old son, and eventually found less than a gram of marijuana in the form of a few roaches.
Cooper, who is running for Texas Attorney General, has successfully busted police with a sting he calls “Finders Keepers” where a bag containing $45, some unused glass pipes, a fake drug-debt list, and a hidden GPS locator is placed in a public place and reported to police as suspicious. In a successful sting on a Liberty Hill police office he recorded for KopBusters, the officer took the money and ditched the bag.
When the KopBusters team attempted the sting again in Florence Texas, police didn’t take the bait and retrieved the “suspicious package” in the legal manner. Later, police reviewed a recording of the phone call reporting the package by a caller identifying himself as “Ted Smith”. Officers claim they could hear Cooper talking in the background, and filed for the arrest warrant.
Sergeant Gary Haston writes in the affidavit for Cooper’s arrest warrant, “Upon review of the recorded telephone call made to the communication center at the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office for this event, [Haston] was immediately able to discern the second, unidentified voice on the call as belonging to…Barry Neal Cooper. [Haston] is familiar with Cooper’s voice from having heard him speak on numerous occasions in videos posted by Cooper on the internet website “YouTube,” as well as Cooper’s own website “Nevergetbusted.com.”
“Our lawyers are laughing at that affidavit,” Cooper said. “First of all, it wasn’t a false report. According to the affidavit for the warrant, the caller said there was a suspicious bag at the school. Well, there was a suspicious bag at the school, so that’s not a false report. But even is there was a valid case of a false report, it would be for the person who made the call, not someone talking in the background.”
Cooper says police raids for misdemeanors are unheard of, and points to the presence of narcotics officers who kept asking “what do you have in your garage?” during his arrest as proof that a lot more was going on behind the scenes.
“In my entire law enforcement career and since I’ve been out I’ve never heard of a raid being conducted on a home for a misdemeanor,” Cooper said.” They knew that the arrest warrant affidavit would not pass the smell test with a real judge, so they took it to a Justice of the Peace.”
He says police probably expected to find a large marijuana growing operation at his house, which would have overshadow their shady methods. When they didn’t find any pot plants, police scoured the house and came up with only a few roaches – not much, but enough for a pair of arrest warrants for Cooper and his wife Candi. Though they have both been charged with possession, Cooper says after pleading guilty, the courts would probably knock the charges down to a Class C misdemeanor and a fine.
He says his family has been turned upside down in the raid – a terrifying four-hour experience where shouting police came through the front door with guns drawn, and eventually seized computers, electronic equipment and even his wife’s iPod.
The Williamson County Sheriff’s office did not return phone calls to Cannabis Culture.
The lawsuit will be filed in the next couple weeks he says, and he will continue fighting corrupt cops for those who can’t.
“This is proof that if you do fight back against corruption, you will get raided and go to jail,” Cooper said. “It is not a fair system and it is intimidating for people out there who want to change things. That’s why we will keep fighting.”
UPDATE: Big props to one of my favorite reporters, Stephen C. Webster from True/Slant (pictured standing behind Barry in the photo above) for his diligent reporting on the KopBusters (and for mentioning Cannabis Culture in his latest piece).