Saturday, December 6th, 2008

Like Mark Draughn, I’ve been somewhat skeptical of Barry Cooper, the former drug cop turned pitchman for how-to-beat-the-cops videos. He comes off as more of a huckster than a principled whistle-blower, which I think does the good ideas he stands for (police reform) more harm than good.

But damn. I have to hand it to him. This might be one of the ballsiest moves I’ve ever seen.

KopBusters rented a house in Odessa, Texas and began growing two small Christmas trees under a grow light similar to those used for growing marijuana. When faced with a suspected marijuana grow, the police usually use illegal FLIR cameras and/or lie on the search warrant affidavit claiming they have probable cause to raid the house. Instead of conducting a proper investigation which usually leads to no probable cause, the Kops lie on the affidavit claiming a confidential informant saw the plants and/or the police could smell marijuana coming from the suspected house.

The trap was set and less than 24 hours later, the Odessa narcotics unit raided the house only to find KopBuster’s attorney waiting under a system of complex gadgetry and spy cameras that streamed online to the KopBuster’s secret mobile office nearby.

To clarify just a bit, according to Cooper, there was nothing illegal going on the bait house, just two evergreen trees and some grow lamps. There was no probable cause. So a couple of questions come up. First, how did the cops get turned on to the house in the first place? Cooper suspects they were using thermal imaging equipment to detect the grow lamps, a practice the Supreme Court has said is illegal. The second question is, what probable cause did the police put on the affidavit to get a judge to sign off on a search warrant? If there was nothing illegal going on in the house, it’s difficult to conceive of a scenario where either the police or one of their informants didn’t lie to get a warrant.

Cooper chose to bait the Odessa police department because he believes police there instructed an informant to plant marijuana on a woman named Yolanda Madden. She’s currently serving an eight-year sentence for possession with intent to distribute. According to Cooper, the informant actually admitted in federal court that he planted the marijuana. Madden was convicted anyway.

The story’s worth watching, not only to see if the cops themselves are held accountable for this, but whether the local district attorney tries to come up with a crime with which to charge Cooper and his assistants.  I can’t imagine such a charge would get very far, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone try.

Here’s some local media coverage:

Digg it |  reddit | |  Fark

107 Responses to “Gotcha”

  1. #1 |  Leatherneck | 

    You go Adam- The truth will be revealed – run scared all you cops, prosecutors, and judges. The truth is feared by all evil men.
    Odesaa has blackout on story, but the light switch is flipped on and the cockroaches are running for cover. News Flash cops will be protected, affidavit will be altered – some poor busted dope will take fall. Fed Pros in Midland (Jackson) will try to protect “his boys” the OPD narcs – he has built is resume on their lies in court. Internal police document and testimony of former narc show Midland Fed Pros. conspired with OPD to deny 5th amendent rights. He told them not to record inteviews or confession in cases they wanted to go fed. Just have two cops come testify the “confession” took place. So if I do not want to confess the cops can do it for me in Junells court. Human Rights Violation – you think?
    Happy hunting Barry. Confessions -yes / compositions- no!

  2. #2 |  KopBusters: Candid Camera for the Boys in Blue — FR33 AGENTS | 

    […] suspected growers, dealers and users is Radley Balko. He is cautiously optimistic about KopBusters, writing: Like Mark Draughn, I’ve been somewhat skeptical of Barry Cooper, the former drug cop turned […]

  3. #3 |  Balko Bait « Upturned Earth || John Schwenkler | 

    […] goes on. Good thing for the Stowers family that they weren’t growing any Christmas trees. No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI […]

  4. #4 |  Upturned Earth » Blog Archive » Balko Bait | 

    […] It goes on. Good thing for the Stowers family that they weren’t growing any Christmas trees. […]

  5. #5 |  coriolis | 

    “How did the cops cops get turned on to the house in the first place?” Here’s how… Cooper, or one of his partners in this prank, penned an anonymous letter and had a woman beg a local minister to deliver it to the police department. The minister did so and is on record in the local newspaper admitting as much. Even the minister suspects Kopbusters of authoring the letter. Cooper has denied this and when asked how he expected the cops to just happen upon this house without any knowledge of it, he flew into an expletive-laced tirade, never answering the question. I’d say the Kopbuster himself was “busted” and his credibility is in the toilet. No, I’m not a cop. But I hate liars, and Barry Cooper is like a bad scientist who manipulates the experiment so that he gets the results he wants.

  6. #6 |  FreeYolanda | 

    Odessa Police Department may investigate postings of the Odessa American online posting.

  7. #7 |  Fortuna Faveat | KopBusters: honestly, the pinnacle of reality television | 

    […] Via The Agitator […]