One former drug cop’s crusade of civil disobedience against America’s drug war establishment has turned into a nightmare for his family, which now faces the very real threat of losing a father and husband for up to six months or more.
Barry Cooper stood handcuffed in front of the state’s capitol building on Friday morning, after he’d turned himself in on a warrant for allegedly making a False Report to a Peace Officer. Once one of the Permian Basin Narcotics Task Force’s most successful agents, Cooper has refashioned himself an anti-prohibition activist and filmmaker; or, America’s “drug war insurgent,” as area media declared.
With the help of a benefactor who hoped to embarrass the Odessa Police Department, Cooper and a team of researchers, videographers and lawyers staged a high-media assault on the west Texas cops in late 2008. By setting up a fake marijuana grow-house retrofitted with small pine trees and high-heat light bulbs, then ensuring the delivery of an anonymous tip about the home to a local pastor, a trap was set.
After the pastor went to officers with the anonymous letter, Cooper says he suspects police peeked into the home with infrared cameras, which is illegal without a search warrant. They would have seen the numerous, hot bulbs and what appeared to be plants growing, along with the location of the home’s heat vent, but could not have known for sure that it was marijuana.
A local judge then signed a warrant based solely on the anonymous tip — a practice which has also been barred by the Supreme Court — and officers raided the home, only to discover they were on camera, duped by one of their own.