|Photo: Loopy Lettuce
|Former narcotics officer Barry Cooper got tired of the Drug War and switched teams. Now he advises marijuana users on how to avoid getting arrested.
Former Texas narcotics officer Barry Cooper, who turned against the Drug War and pulled a reverse sting operation against the Odessa Police Department, will walk on all charges related to the incident, an attorney for Ector County announced Tuesday.
Cooper, well known for his Never Get Busted
DVDs, set up a fake marijuana grow house in Odessa, wired it for sound and video, and then used an anonymous letter to lure police into a December 2008 raid, reports Stephen C. Webster at The Raw Story
The letter was delivered to a local church, which then turned it over to police. Not long after that, the door came crashing in as gung-ho officers came bursting through.
|Photo: The Raw Story
|Candi Cooper looks away after her husband Barry is arrested in Austin on July 2
Cooper, his wife Candi, and another individual who assisted them were all arrested at the time, tw months ago, on Class B misdemeanor charges of making a false report to a peace officer in relation to the reverse sting.
Candi was arrested at the Coopers’ apartment in south Austin, and Barry turned himself in
a few days later at the Texas capitol building.
The decision not to press charges against Cooper was made by Ector County Attorney Cindy Weir-Nutter, according to The Raw Story.
“The statute in Texas requires that the false report be made during an investigation, and there was no ongoing investigation,” Weir-Nutter told The Odessa American
. “You have to be able to prove all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“The county attorney’s office did not believe they had enough facts or evidence to convict Barry or Candi,” said James Gill, Cooper’s Austin-based attorney. “In other words, they did not commit any crime.”
“We’re very excited that the county attorney’s office has decided in this way,” Gill said.
Cooper said he set up the grow house after he was hired by the father of Yolanda Jean Madden, an Odessa woman who for months said police conspired to plant drugs on her. Madden, who had her conviction set aside for a new trial,
”We knew we were right,” Cooper said. “We knew we designed that sting to where we weren’t breaking any laws and we knew that when the Rangers came and tricked Candi and forced me to turn myself in… We knew they were wrong, too. We’re thankful that a prosecutor had enough guts to say, ‘This isn’t right.'”
“It’s kind of a big slap in the face to the Texas Rangers,” Cooper said Tuesday. “I know the law. It’s not hard to read.”
After Cooper’s arrest, the Odessa Police Department had issued a self-congratulatory statement
claiming the charges filed by Texas Rangers served to vindicate the police officers who “performed professionally and appropriately” while investigating the supposed grow house.
Police Chief Tim Burton (not the famous director) declined to comment on the dismissal of the charges. But Cpl. Sherrie Carruth issued a statement saying “we respect the prosecutorial decision” and thanking the Rangers and county attorney’s office for their efforts.
Cooper said he would now drop the City of Odessa from his $40 million civil suit against, among others, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department, the Odessa Police Department and the Texas Rangers.
“[Odessa] decided not to prosecute us so there’s no point in dragging them through this lawsuit, but we’re going to turn it up on the Texas Rangers for false arrest and retaliation, because it’s clear that’s what they did,” Cooper said. “I’m only after the corruption.”
“It’s about time we had some good news,” Candi Cooper said. “We have been through it lately. To hear this, it’s very wonderful for our family.”
Odessa resident Tammy Grimes, who was also charged for her supporting role in the reverse sting, said she was “extremely excited” at the development.
“I’m very thankful for the good work that [Weir-Nutter] and her staff did,” Grimes said. “I’m very happy and pleased.”
The Texas Rangers may refile charges against Cooper in Odessa, according to The Raw Story.
The maximum penalty for making a false report to a police officer is six months in prison.
Both Coopers are still being prosecuted by Williamson County for the same charge, making a false report to a police officer, in a different case
, where Barry said he caught a cop stealing $45 from a reportedly suspicious package, as part of a separate KopBusters sting carried out in 2009.
Cooper said Tuesday that he intends to fight that charge, and expects to go to trial sometime in late November.
The Williamson County hoax also resulted in a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana in Travis County after authorities, apparently bent on revenge, searched Cooper’s residence. Cooper said he is trying to work out a plea bargain in that case.