William Cooper Update

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Police in Hampton, Virginia say they found three bottles of prescription pain medication in William Cooper’s home, two of which were empty. Cooper was killed over the weekend during a police drug raid on his home. (Prior post on the Cooper raid here.) But they won’t say if the bottles were in Cooper’s name. If, as his friends are saying, the guy suffered from knee and back pain, one full and two empty bottles of prescription pain meds hardly seems like the stash of a hardened drug dealer.

The informant also claimed Cooper was selling methadone. The police found no methadone. This is smelling more and more like the sort of rotten deal an informant cuts with the cops to get out from under his own criminal charges. Police also say they also found a number of guns in Cooper’s home, but haven’t yet said if any of them were illegal to own.

Also, about that softball field:

Price said police found no evidence that a stray bullet from the shootout made its way to a baseball field that runs 150 to 200 feet behind Clifton Street — separated by a creek and dense brush.

Rita Roby, a coach of a girls softball team playing at the field, said Tuesday that there were about 100 people at the field at the time of the shooting, including ball players, spectators and coaches.

Roby said that she was huddling with her team at the edge of the field when they heard about five bullets.

One of her players, she said, felt something whiz past her shirt. Roby said she can’t believe police engaged in a shootout so close to a ball field where children were playing ball.

“It really makes me angry,” she said. “It’s really sloppy.”

Price said a bullet did go through the back of Cooper’s home, but police have not recovered it.

“We checked the field with metal detectors, and interviewed people there,” he said. “We found no evidence that a bullet went into the ball field,” or that it had whizzed past the girl’s shirt.

Price noted that the field is not visible from Cooper’s home because of the dense brush.

Well, then. We can hardly blame the Hampton police department for carrying out a volatile home invasion raid on an old guy suspected of selling painkillers that ended in a rash of gunfire just 200 feet in front of a softball field filled with kids and spectators . . . if there was “thick brush” in the way. I mean, how could they possibly have known? By the way, one officer accidentally fired through Cooper’s front door. His bullet lodged in the house of a woman who lives across the street.

This article interviews a neighbor who says she heard the gunshots but no knock or announcement. It also says police found “20 different prescription drugs”, which sounds like a lot until you discover in the other article that only three of them were controlled. I’m a healthy, 36-year-old guy. I just did a quick check of my medicine cabinet. I found six different prescription drugs I’ve accumulated over the years. From the prior linked article:

The list of confiscated items includes 16 other pill bottles — for drugs used to treat symptoms ranging from arthritis to diabetes to seizures to heart disease . . .

Other seized items included Cooper’s wallet, $903 in cash, his 2000 Lexus automobile — allegedly connected to the drug sales — as well as a vehicle title and “financial documents.”

Of course, even if this guy was selling prescription drugs, it doesn’t justify forcibly entering his home with guns drawn and spraying the neighborhood with bullets. Nor does it necessarily mean he knew the men breaking into his home were cops.

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61 Responses to “William Cooper Update”

  1. #1 |  Tolly | 

    Cripes. Did anyone seriously expect anything different?

    These violent idiots and the superiors who green-lit the raid should be forced to do a “Drugs on the Table” moment with a photo of the deceased and the grand haul of three pill bottles on display. Then a reporter with some balls could ask for various stats – how many rounds were fired; what was the total cost of the raid; did they turn up ANY illegal activity?

  2. #2 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    So in most places it’s illegal for a guy who dated a 16-year-old when he was 19 to live within 2000 feet of a playground, but it’s totally legal to use old men for target practice within 200 feet of said playground if there’s “intervening brush”. I wonder if the “sex offender” could use the same excuse, since clearly the State classifies brush as an impenetrable barrier.

  3. #3 |  Thom | 

    So are police allowed to do these raids now based purely on an unsubstantiated tip from a confidential informant? Wouldn’t they at least have to do an undercover buy or get evidence of an actual narcotics sale? Every time one of these raids fails to turn up any drugs it becomes clearer that police aren’t even investigating these crimes properly before kicking people’s doors in.

  4. #4 |  LivingPre911Still | 

    If a bullet goes across an open field, chances of finding it are less than a needle in a haystack. Saying they took mettle detectors out there to look is simply a dog and pony show for the gullible… which unfortunately, usually works. By saying that there was a screen of heavy brush, they were indicating that both they could not see and that is was something that could stop a bullet, which is false. When sighting guns, we never shot without first checking the fields beyond where we could see (on the other side of brush screens) as a common safety practice.

  5. #5 |  anonymous | 

    Yeah, I know you could link these comments, but still, casual anonymity is something at least.

    I’m a vaguely unhealthy 34 year old, and I think I have more prescription bottles (that are current, in my name, etc) than that. Between the anti-depressants (yeah, maybe I should stop coming here, but not knowing won’t make it all go away) and the anti-biotics and the arthritis meds, I could be that guy. And they’d get to have a nice bedsheet scene when they laid out all of my (perfectly legal, bought on ATF form 4473s) firearm collection.

    At least my house is brick, so the shots probably wouldn’t overpenetrate and kill my neighbor’s kids.


    William Cooper == Kathryn Johnston

  6. #6 |  LivingPre911Still | 

    and just how do you find “evidence” that a bullet whizzed past a girls shirt? They most certainly are whizzing on our heads and saying it’s raining.

  7. #7 |  gonzostl | 

    So they killed this guy so they could steal his 2000 Lexus and $903 in cash.

  8. #8 |  Marty | 

    these guys can’t frequently can’t find the correct address for the doors they bust in, so we’re supposed to believe them when they say there’s no bullets in the field?

    I can’t believe how well the cops have built in ways to insulate their incompetence. It’s like some old cop is teaching these guys how to talk to the media- like Kevin Costner did with Tim Robbins in Bull Durham…

  9. #9 |  Marty | 

    that was pretty convoluted- ‘these guys frequently can’t find the correct address…’ sorry.

  10. #10 |  Cyto | 

    I made the same sweep through my medicine cabinet. I’m married, so I look like an uber-drug dealer. I’ve had a couple of sports injuries over the years, as has my wife. We both tend to under-use the prescription painkillers – taking at most half the bottle, so there’s probably a felony worth of years-old hydrocodone and percocet in there. Not to mention out-of-date birth control pills, migraine pills, antihistamines, two different anti-acid medications… Holy crap! I’ve got 4 warehouse-club sized bottles of over-the-counter painkillers! And industrial-sized vitamins!

    I can just see the blurb on the news: “Police seized a dozen prescription bottles and over 2,000 pills!”

    I also like the fact that even though they don’t have any evidence of real wrongdoing, they stole his car and cash – just in case. It kinda brings to mind casting lots for the effects of an executed prisoner.

  11. #11 |  Anthony | 

    “By the way, one officer accidentally fired through Cooper’s front door.”

    It should read “one officer negligently fired through Cooper’s front door”

    There are no shooting “accidents”.

  12. #12 |  Mario | 

    My father is a 79-year-old heart patient, and the number of pills he takes in one sitting looks like he dumped open a bag of Skittles.

    If the police had anything substantive to accuse this guy of, we’d have heard about it by now.

  13. #13 |  Mattocracy | 

    I wish I hadn’t read the comments from the cop blog. Fuck those self righteous assholes.

  14. #14 |  VikingMoose | 

    condolences and comfort to Mr. Cooper’s family and friends. This is a tragic waste. It transcends “drug dealing” or “law enforcement”. It is a senseless death, needless endangerment, and jack-booted ignorance.

    Mario – transplant recipients often take 30+ pills/day, particularly in the first months. Imagine how that would go over: someone gets Hep from contaminated tattoo needles. Has tats, is young, and now is covered in pills. “Law and Order” types would fall over themselves to pull the trigger!

  15. #15 |  stilts11 | 

    I think its funny they mentioned seizing the dead guys $900 and 2000 lexus…. not a bad little heist.

  16. #16 |  PogueMahone | 

    Some shoddy journalism going on here – but what else is new?
    The article mentions how the police say there is no evidence that bullets whizzed past a park where kids play.
    What the article doesn’t mention, is that there is no evidence that the man was dealing drugs.

  17. #17 |  Maria | 

    This one has really gotten under my skin for some reason.

    It’s not like these stories are lacking and this isn’t even the most heart breaking one this year. It’s just this one… all the little details that the cops are are feeding to the media taste so sour. The spin is nothing but normal, every day crap that’s being used to try and justify a murder.

    … Old guy had an 11 year old car, 900 bucks in cash, a few guns, prescriptions for old guy health issues and random pill bottles (notice they don’t say prescriptions there, just “pill bottles.”) (With three people and two dogs in our house we probably have about a hundred “pill bottles.”)

    Next they will be telling us he had one of those pre-paid credit cards in his wallet for nefarious money laundering purposes and those “financial documents” will show that he was also a nasty tax evader felon (you know because in 2005 he owed 300$ in back taxes and in 2010 he didn’t report 400$ in misc income.)

    Oh, I’m sure he also had some speeding tickets and maybe an assault charge from when he was in a stupid bar fight back in ’82. Hell, maybe some unpaid child support or a drug conviction from when he was 25? (This is all pure speculation of course but I’ll bet it will come to this sort of “evidence” at some point.)

    “SEE! He was scum! It’s like totally cool that we gunned him down! RIGHT GUYZ?! … Guys? *whine* Oh come on, we have to do something with all these cool toys or we get bored! You won’t like us when we’re bored… ”

    Fuck them.

  18. #18 |  Brian | 

    “… drugs used to treat symptoms ranging from arthritis to diabetes to seizures to heart disease…”

    So they found some aspirin?

  19. #19 |  celticdragonchick | 

    I have no idea how many bottles and empty bottles of whatever you could turn up in a search at my place. I am in a pain treatment program (already suspicious, right?) and I take a large daily dose of Tramadol, which is not a popular street drug but is is still a prescription pain med. I also have a few old pills of hydrocodone (which is popular) laying around that I use on very bad pain days.

    I also have 2 assault rifles, a WW I bolt action .30-06 Eddystone Enfield and a lovely working reproduction King’s Second Land Pattern Brown Bess musket…with bayonet.

    I’m sure the detectives would have a blast with me, although if I were to shoot at anybody coming into my home who had body armor on, they would be unhappy to learn that my SKS (modified by the PLA to take unaltered Kalashnikov 30 round mags) is loaded with Chinese steel core armor piercing rounds.

  20. #20 |  EH | 

    Thom@3: I wish reporters would start asking not about “what happened,” which as we all know is always hidden behind an investigation, but what *policy* is. “Is it policy for raids to be conducted on random tips? What degree of investigation is required prior to filing for a warrant?” Stuff like that.

  21. #21 |  Highway | 

    They’re seriously saying that a decade old Lexus (and probably a ES300 at that) is ‘connected’ to the guy selling drugs? How, cause that’s the car he used to go pick up his prescriptions?

    This is a rotten story, through and through. It’s a police department run rampant, and post facto justifying whatever they do. And like we saw on yesterday’s thread with that comment from ‘hampton mom’ that was copied here, people eat it up. There’s no oversight from any legislative body. They’re more concerned with “giving the police the tools they need”, justified by some amorphous bogeyman like drugs, terrorists, gangs, or prostitutes. Never ever look to see if those tools are being used well. Never look to see if those tools are actually warranted.

    Basically, they’re giving a bunch of tools a bunch of tools that all seem to look like a big sledgehammer.

  22. #22 |  CyniCAl | 

    The closer one lives to a seat of power (state, federal capital), the more likely it is the local police force will be tyrannical.

  23. #23 |  Andrew S. | 

    I just wish the inverse was true, CyniCAl. Miami’s a long way from the state capital, but we have the most corrupt cops in the state (and probably for surrounding states as well).

    Two more months and I’ll never have to step foot in Miami again. At least Fort Lauderdale is slightly better.

  24. #24 |  Dave | 

    I used to be all for the police, now I find them to be a serious threat to our liberties and way of life.
    Do any of you cops give a crap about how bad these invasions/killings over drugs (or the wrong home) make you look in the eyes of the public?

  25. #25 |  SJE | 

    Since brush is an inpenetrable barrier, I suggest that SWAT teams throw away the body army and walk around with shrubbery.

  26. #26 |  Beau Deters | 

    Is it too much to ask to knock on his door, show him the warrant, and talk about searching his property over a cup of coffee judging his body language, mannerism, voice tone, rate, & inflection to assess if he is hiding something or doing something illegal. Anyone that has actually observed human nature can pick out the small things & see if there are any illegal drugs or not in casual conversation. No broken doors & windows, no broken bones, & no gun shot wounds. If the officer assess that it is a false call he can just surrender the warrant, thank the old man for the cup of coffee, ask his forgiveness & uninvited intrusion and leave with honor & an understanding that he was checking things out & doing his job, but in a way where no one need be hurt, no property needs to be damaged, & no tears need to be shed.

    But that would require testicular fortitude & courage. It is so much easy to bum rush an old man & kill him in 1st degree premeditated murder than share a cup of coffee assess & leave when there is no signs of drug distribution. Do the right thing? Not any more in the USSA!

  27. #27 |  Samsam von Virginia | 

    Maybe someone could make a bathrobe that looks kind like body armor, with POLICE across the front and back. Put it on when investigating noises at night; might give you that extra second of hesitation on the part of the intruders….

  28. #28 |  Ken Hagler | 

    On the positive side, at least now we know who is behind those home invasion robberies that the people in that neighborhood were worried about.

  29. #29 |  Bill | 

    I love the “we searched the field with metal detectors” statement. A bullet can easily travel one MILE, and the field was what, 200 feet away? One would expect that if a bullet’s path was sufficiently parallel to the ground to pass close to one of the kids on the ball field, the bullet would come to rest a lot further downrange than the ball field.

  30. #30 |  Sheila | 

    Police have been changing over the last few years, getting rid of the “GOOD COPS” and recruiting murderers from our overseas military excursions in to their numbers.

    Roid head cops and sociopaths are the norm now, they are the foil of the NEW WORLD ODER


  31. #31 |  Ted S. | 

    “Police also say they also found a number of guns in Cooper’s home”

    Zero is a number.

  32. #32 |  CyniCAl | 

    @#29 | Bill

    More interesting is the selective nature of “evidence.” For example, the eyewitness testimony of the paid informant was sufficient to the police to launch the violent raid, but the eyewitness testimony of the girl whose head the bullet whizzed past was insufficient to prove to the police that a bullet had whizzed past her head.

    In other words, 2+2=4 unless we tell you 2+2=5. Why the State even bothers to keep up the pretense is beyond me. If they just acted like tyrants instead of pretending to not be tyrants, think of all the budget money that could be saved. Oh wait, I forgot, government is a cost-plus enterprise … nevermind.

  33. #33 |  Kristen | 

    @#24 Dave…problem is it doesn’t make them look bad in the eyes of the public. It only looks bad to the reasonable, sane and freedom-loving among us, which is a preciously low percentage of the population. Just read the comments on these types of news stories in the mainstream media and you’ll see we’re in deep, deep trouble.

  34. #34 |  MassHole | 

    “Police also say they also found a number of guns in Cooper’s home”

    I also bet that if they checked his neighbors house, the mayors house, the fire chiefs house, the young couple with two kids down the street house and the local pentecostal ministers house they would find a number of guns too.

    It’s fucking VA! It would be strange if he didn’t own a firearm.

  35. #35 |  ser | 

    wow disgusting, rule of law and justice are illusions, apparently, every man or pig for themselves

  36. #36 |  Mattocracy | 

    When cops kill a guy, all they need is circumstantial evidence to justify it. It’s not like they need to convict him of anything now, so pills bottles and gun ownsership is all they need to wash their hands of this.

  37. #37 |  KarenJ | 

    Maria @ #17 is right, this isn’t the first time this kind of police attack has happened. Consider the hushed-up reports after this Arizona episode: http://vetlawyers.com/vetblog/index.php/2011/05/arizona-marine-killed-in-botched-police-raid/

    A justifiably angry sorta-libertarian POV here: http://hubpages.com/hub/Iraq-Veteran-Gunned-Down-At-Home-Coverup

  38. #38 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    William Cooper is now another poster child for SWAT raid abuses. Like some sick Stefon update on SNL, this one “has it all” except for the chubby kid on a slip and slide whose knees look like biscuits. They replaced that with kids playing softball down range.

    Fuck everything about SWAT, every single cop, and the war on every nitpicking thing. When you’re filling a 70 year old full of lead based on a tip that he’s selling Tylenol…fuck you.

  39. #39 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Worse than that. Check the homes of the fucktards from SWAT who murdered him. I’ll bet any amount that they have guns and bottles of illegal steroids to go with GBs of porn and some illegal downloads.

  40. #40 |  RIRedinPA | 

    I live about a mile or so from a local high school, when the wind is right I can hear the marching band at halftime during the football games. One hundred people at a softball game 200 yards away, brush or no brush, would be pretty audible.

  41. #41 |  Matt Moore | 

    Virginia doesn’t do gun registration, except for machine guns, so I doubt his guns were illegal.

    As far as all the prescriptions that were found, do they suspect that someone was buying his diabetes pills to get high?

  42. #42 |  JdL | 

    I followed another one of Radley’s morning links to http://www.policeone.com/Officer-Safety/articles/3834014-Man-gets-3-years-for-shooting-SWAT-deputy/ . This site, policeone.com, smugly proclaims that “Only law enforcement professionals may comment on articles.” What a bunch of freeping cowards, sitting in their echo chambers!

    Society needs to be purged of all existing cops. No, in answer to your question, I just mean we should fire them. And their names should go into a public database so that potential future employers can consider whether they would want to hire someone with such a questionable background.

  43. #43 |  Some Misc. Items for Summer Solstice » ReasonAndJest.com | 

    […] of this police-state breakdown of society, Radley Balko has this update on the story of the old man who was murdered by police (yes, another one), after they broke into […]

  44. #44 |  Laura Victoria | 

    Such a pleasant little website, PigOne. Can we please get a play-by-play description for the low-tech among us to get on there at least temporarily.

    I only feel free to ask because I live in Cabo.

  45. #45 |  Dante | 

    At the end of the day, this is murder. This is exactly the same as what happened to Katherine Johnson in Atlanta – the police screwed up and killed her, then launched a smear campaign on the dead person so the police could cover up their mistakes.

    Murder. Not Law Enforcement. There is a difference.

  46. #46 |  Charlie O | 

    He’s driving an 11 year old car? Wow! He’s just rolling in that drug money. Murderers. Pure and simple. Government paid murderers.

  47. #47 |  J.S. | 

    100-200 feet or yards to the field? If feet, I’d be rather concerned as thats under 100yards. I’m no expert but it all depends on what the cops were shooting. .223/5.56 ammo would be my guess in some full auto m-16/ar-15 variant with a 300 yard effective range. Brush/woods would likely slow down/stop that ammo but at that short range I’d be very worried something would sneak through to the baseball fields.

  48. #48 |  Andrew S. | 

    Society needs to be purged of all existing cops. No, in answer to your question, I just mean we should fire them. And their names should go into a public database so that potential future employers can consider whether they would want to hire someone with such a questionable background.

    Can we also ban them from living within 2500 feet of schools/daycares/etc? I don’t want them around my daughter. They’re dangerous people.

  49. #49 |  Aresen | 

    I just did a quick check of my medicine cabinet. I found six different prescription drugs I’ve accumulated over the years.

    It is easy to accumulate prescription drugs without intending to do so. I took 4 bottles of outdated prescription drugs that I had accumulated over the years to the pharmacy for destruction about 3 months back. (If you have outdated drugs, please don’t flush them, take them to the pharmacy for environmentally safe disposal. Most pharmacists will do this free of charge.)

    [I held on to my Tylenol 3s and Celebrex, though.]

  50. #50 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I held on to my Tylenol 3s and Celebrex

    You still have them, meaning:
    1. You aren’t abusing them
    2. You aren’t selling them
    3. You might need them or want to take them in the future

    Adults. We are adults living in a maddening nation that murders the peasants regularly to keep other peasants in line.

  51. #51 |  croaker | 

    Is there a Police1 thread on this yet?

    Between my medicine cabinet and refrigerator I’m on 7 medications. I wonder if they’ll count my vitamin jars when I get shot dead like a dog?

  52. #52 |  Spirit of '76 | 

    Prudent precaution seems warranted: steel doors, barricades, multiple video cameras indoors as well as out, intrusion detection systems at your driveway (motion sensing or IR beam), and perhaps an alarm company with live mics so at least, with your own video, your widow and children will know that you were murdered in cold blood.

  53. #53 |  Dan Bennett | 

    This man had a family. He was in our family. Bootsy Cooper never took an illicit drug in his life. Bootsy was not a drug dealer. He was a nice old man, not unlike your grandfather might be. He was also scared of his neighborhood at night. He was slightly hard of hearing and like many older folks, he had cataracts and arthritis. This doesn’t pass the smell test. Something is rotten in Denmark as they say. Go ahead Hampton City Police Department and entrench yourselves. Two of your own made a terrible mistake and murdered a man in his own home. This man had lived in Hampton his entire life. This man was a law abiding taxpayer. This man had a name (William A. Cooper) and YOU violated his rights!

  54. #54 |  stevelaudig | 

    “Cooper was killed over the weekend”. “How about “Cooper was murdered over the weekend.” Let’s get the language right. Or if that is too strong. How about, “In my opinion Cooper was murdered over the weekend.”

  55. #55 |  albatross | 


    I think the proper charge would be negligent homicide.

  56. #56 |  The Tim Channel | 

    Another is a growing list of ‘collateral damage’ deaths due to the senseless violence of the DRUG WAR. Drugs don’t cause violence (SEE WOODSTOCK E.G.). Wars cause violence.

    Good luck America. You’re so fucked.


  57. #57 |  Deoxy | 

    At some point, the people will go about getting their own justice – officers will be killed in their homes after incidents like this. When it gets that bad, many other VERY nasty problems will come with it, and I really don’t want to live in a society like that.

    So, officers – get your house in order. Even if you won’t do it for anyone else’s sake, do it for your own.

  58. #58 |  Greg | 

    “Maggie McNeill”

    I truly have no reason at all to believe you have ever been a hooker/prostitute/callgirl.

    My stripper (not hooker, just stripper) friends are lightyears more jaded after a week on the job. When they are age 18.

    Puhleese… At over 40? Ya gotta be jokin’… or trollin’….

  59. #59 |  Don Tabor | 

    #55 regarding the proper charge.

    I would believe it would be Felony Murder (a homicide which occurs in the commission of a felony.)

    While the Supreme Court allows evidence gathered while conducting an unlawful search(Hudson V Michigan) to be used, it remains a crime to conduct an unlawful search. It is becoming clear the proper knock and announce procedures (Wilson v Arkansas) were circumvented.

  60. #60 |  eddy current | 

    I think the proper charge would be negligent homicide.

  61. #61 |  Afternoon Links | The Agitator | 

    […] family of William Cooper, the 69-year-old Hampton, Virginia man killed in a drug raid earlier this year, has filed a lawsuit against the officers who conducted the […]