CANNABIS CULTURE – Ex-narcotics officer turned cop-busting filmmaker Barry Cooper has been arrested for allegedly filing a false police report in a KopBusters sting operation, and for possession of less than a gram of marijuana found in a raid on his home.
Barry is a well-know marijuana activist and current candidate for Texas Attorney-General, and has been actively working on a project called KopBusters, a series of videos where he and his team set up sting operations and bust corrupt police officers committing crimes.
As a ex-narc and star of a series of videos called NeverGetBusted, which helps pot users and growers avoid nosy cops, Barry is no stranger to police tactics, but was surprised when he was pulled over on Tuesday by Williamson County police officers on the way to speak at the University of Texas, and arrested for the misdemeanor charge of filing a false police report during a sting he set up for KopBusters in Florence, Texas.
In a setup Barry calls “Finders Keepers”, the Kopbusters team planted a bag loaded with some cash and several unused crack pipes, then called police about a suspicious package at public lot.
The sting, which was used recently to successfully bust a Libery Hill police officer who stole the money and crack pipes, did not work this time, and police picked up the bag in the proper legal manner.
Barry told Cannabis Culture that during the arrest, Narcotics officers were present, and repeatedly told him they wanted to know what he had in his garage, alluding to a marijuana grow operation. Barry said that he is under constant surveillance, and figures the cops had seen a growing tent he purchased for an upcoming video, which is sitting in his garage.
The police told Barry that they were going to raid his home, and Barry said they would only find a few roaches, if anything.
“I told them I didn’t have any plants or pounds and said it was all bullshit,” he said. “You’ve got NeverGetBusted on a misdemeanor and your going to raid my house for a couple roaches?”
Shortly afterward, Williamson County police raided his Travis County home, walking through his unlocked front door with guns drawn, surprising Barry’s wife Candi and their 7-year old son.
“It was very scary,” Candi told Cannabis Culture, “but I couldn’t really act scared because I didn’t want to alarm my 7-year-old who has a slight case of cerebral palsy and is almost deaf; I didn’t want him to get scared.”
More than ten officers searched the home, seizing the family’s computers, filming devices and other electronic equipment, iPods, a GPS locator and even an alarm clock.
“They went through our house with a fine tooth comb.” Candi said.
The police found only a few roaches in their search. On finding the minuscule amount of marijuana, Travis County police were called to do another search on the house. Eventually, a warrant was issued for both Candi and Barry’s arrests for possession of marijuana. Neither have ever faced charges for drugs.
Barry says he was expecting the arrest, as he had been warned before he started the sting that police could charge him with a Class A misdemeanor for violation of Texas penal code § 42.06, for calling in the police tip.
Candi says the raid and arrests were an “obvious retaliation” for the couples political activism. “I think all of it is bullshit and I am mad about it. You don’t do a four-hour search on someone’s house on a Class A misdemeanor, and you don’t get a warrant for your arrest and $2000 bond for a roach in Travis County. People smoke going down the street here and never get hassled by the cops, that shows you right there that this is a vendetta. I’m so mad I want to go tomorrow and start the lawsuit.”
In great coverage of the raid and arrest on True/Slant, journalist Stephen C. Webser spoke with attorney Maury D. Beaulier about Barry’s case, who said that raids on the basis of an alleged misdemeanor are rare.
“In my 19 years of experience with criminal defense matters, a search warrant for a misdemeanor charge is certainly unusual,” he said. It indicates to me that this is a targeted investigation. It may be targeted because it is believed to be a part of a greater crime or conspiracy, or, perhaps, because there are political motivations at work.”
Williamson County police Sgt. John Foster reported to the press that Cooper was arrested because he set up his sting to catch police on public school grounds.
“Apparently, he was doing this to test us,” he told the Odessa American said. “When you do something like this on a school grounds [sic], even though it’s after school hours…I’m sure the parents and faculty would probably have been quite alarmed to find a crack pipe on their campus.”
Barry said the raid will probably give his cause added attention.
“This is a positive thing,” Barry said. “Unfortunately for every other family in America and Canada who get raided by the police, it usually isn’t a positive thing. We didn’t know it was coming that day but we had talked about being raided and we know how to navigate through that stuff a little better than the other families. Which is really sad, because somebody’s getting raided right now, and to them it’s the end of the world.”
By Jeremiah Vandermeer