Barry Cooper Arrested in Austin, Texas
Barry Cooper has been called an “ex-cop gone pot activist” about a million times, but that’s only the tip of the buzzwords iceberg. Yes, he released a DVD series called “Never Get Busted” where he describes in incredible detail how and where to hide your drugs from the police during a traffic stop. Yes, he went in-depth about the science of how police drug dogs sniff out your illegal substances and how to properly avoid detection. He even made a DVD about keeping your million dollar grow-op under the police radar (“Never Get Raided”). Until recently, Barry Cooper’s slow and articulate counterpoints to the war on drugs were generally limited to YouTube and Jerry Springer-esque political TV shows.
After the Never Get Busted DVDs, Barry Cooper got to work on KopBusters with his wife, Candi. This project, according to the Kopbusters’ website, “was hatched in one of many late night board meetings which consists of Barry and Candi smoking herb and pillow talking their upcoming strategies they will use to assist Americans.” Essentially, it’s a bizarre and brilliant reality TV show where police are lured into breaking the law on camera.
In Odessa, Texas, Kopbusters rented a house and set up a light that generated a lot of heat. They pumped this heat out of the house. As a self-admitted crooked narcotics cop in the past, Barry Cooper knew that the police would illegally view this house through an infrared camera and think that it was marijuana grow house. (Police need evidence that the house is involved in crime, and the approval of a judge, before they can inspect it with an infrared camera.)
He was right. On December 4th, 2008 police illegally entered the house, only to find an elaborate trick, a Kopbusters T-shirt on the wall, and a bunch of spy cameras. Obviously the evidence that would have been required to search the house for drugs didn’t exist, so police stalled when pressured by media to provide the search warrant affidavit. When they eventually coughed it up, police handed over an “anonymous letter” from some preacher tipping them off to the drug house.
In the beginning of 2009, riding the media attention and internet publicity from the KopBusters videos, Barry Cooper announced that he was going to run for Texas Attorney General. He was damn sure that he’d win it, too. He outlined his plans for being the “sheriff of Texas” to the police themselves. He was going to allow citizens to sue the government if they felt their rights were violated by police. He was going to pay police much more money to attract more physically and mentally fit officers.
All the while, Kopbusters kept catching police doing unethical and unconstitutional things. In October of 2010, his crew filled a lunch bag with a crack-looking pipe, a beer, a sandwich, some 3D glasses, a fake drug ledger, and some cash. They called in an anonymous tip about a suspicious package. The officer who arrived on the scene looked in the bag and left it there. Kopbusters called again and the officer returned. This time he stole the money ($45), the crack pipe, and ledger and threw the rest in the trash. A freedom of information request showed that no report was ever filed. Cooper approached the Chief of Police with the tape. The Chief thanked Cooper and said he’d look into it. So, the Texas Rangers looked the case over and decided that nothing needed to be done.
Kopbusters staged the same stunt, but this time in Lockhart and in Florence. This time both officers turned in all of the evidence and filed reports.
In March, Williamson County Police, Travis County Police, and Texas Rangers raided Barry Cooper’s house and confiscated his computer equipment, including his Kopbusters footage. Police claimed they found miniscule pieces of marijuana. He was arrested for filing a false police report and for possession. At the time of this interview, Cooper was nearing his trial date of August 8th, 9th, and 10th in Georgetown, Texas.
A young Barry Cooper holding a drug trophy from a successful bust
Austin Cut: Do you really think that Texas is ready for a politician like you?
Barry Cooper: Of course! The reason I’m not Texas attorney general now is because the police raided me for busting the corrupt cops. I made it clear in the media that I was really close to selling my Kopbusters reality show for cable television, which was going to give me the fame and the money I needed to win Texas Attorney General. As a part of my campaign, I was going to sting cops all over Texas on cable TV. So had I been able to sell the Kopbusters reality show, I would have won Texas Attorney General.
It’s my belief Greg Abbott knew I had a big chance to win, so he allowed the Texas Rangers to begin arresting me and harassing me to the point where I couldn’t concentrate on the race any longer. And it worked; it knocked me out of the race. I don’t know any politician that survived a raid and three arrests in the same year of their campaign. So, if it hadn’t been for the retaliation of law enforcement, I believe I would have been the next Texas Attorney General.
Austin Cut: So, you do think that people would have voted for you and that you did stand a chance? Even though Texas is notorious for gerrymandering and screwing with political races?
Barry Cooper: That’s kind of what they did when they launched their raid and arrests against me. They predetermined that I couldn’t win after that. I still believe that if I’d sold that Kopbusters reality show for cable TV, Spike was looking at it really hard, that I would have won because I grew up in Texas working on farms and ranches. I coon hunted and duck hunted and deer hunted. And I understand the Texas farmer. I understand the Texans working the oil fields. And aside from some of my antics, I’m an electable person.
This might not sound like much, but I was president of the student body in high school. The guy who ran against me in high school my senior year, he later became the Texas A&M student body president. So I really believed that I was electable and so did others. I just needed the money and the fame. You know how Jesse Ventura got in there, because he had the fame from wrestling. That’s the way I would have won.
Austin Cut: Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Barry Cooper: Exactly. I have a movie deal about all of this.
Austin Cut: I have a police scanner and I listen in a lot to the undercover police. They’re disgusting. How would you characterize your dealings with the Texas Rangers?
Barry Cooper: Texas Rangers certainly arrested my wife and I under bogus charges of a false report to a peace officer stemming from Odessa Kopbusters. Those charges were later dropped by the prosecutor because they were bogus. So my respect level for the Texas Rangers on a scale from 1 to 100 is a minus 100. They’re supposed to be one of the elite law enforcement agencies in the U.S. Why do they bow to the level of making false arrests just to retaliate against activists and politicians such as myself? To me they’re a crooked organization. And I have many, many, many lawyers that tell me the same thing. That they’re constantly getting cases from the Texas Rangers that are just bizarre and horrible, horrible cases. Their reputation is declining rapidly.
Austin Cut: They’re secretive, too. They don’t broadcast publicly on anything you can pick up. The only time you figure out what they’re doing is when someone gets arrested.
Barry Cooper: That’s right. They’re the Texas Attorney General’s private police force.
Austin Cut: So you would have been in charge of them.
Barry Cooper: Yes I would have.
Austin Cut: So when you set out to do this activism you must have thought, “I am going to become a target for the police.” Were you prepared for this level of retaliation?
Barry Cooper: Absolutely not. It totally caught me by surprise. Because not only do I know the law as well as any lawyer because I’m an ex-cop and I’m currently an expert witness. I fly all over the U.S. to courts and testify regarding police. I know the law myself. But to be positive that I wasn’t breaking any laws, I allowed a team of lawyers and several other police officers to examine what I had planned to do on both stings in Odessa and in Williamson County. Everybody’s consensus was that I wasn’t breaking any laws. I certainly wasn’t doing anything immoral and I wasn’t doing anything wrong and I wasn’t doing anything illegal. While I knew these operations would climb me higher on the police hate-roll, it totally caught me by surprise that they raided my house and jailed me. I believe that a lot of that had to do with the FBI report. Did you read that?
Austin Cut: Yeah. That was strange.
Barry Cooper: Well, if you read that one paragraph in there, it’s basically the FBI tapping local police on the shoulder to join together to stop me. You know that paragraph that explains: “The best way to dismantle Kopbusters is for local law enforcement to join together.” You know? That’s exactly what they did, man. Texas Rangers, Williamson County, DPS, they all joined together, arrested me for misdemeanors to the point where I couldn’t keep up with all of it.
Austin Cut: Exactly. A normal person could never keep up. You gotta spend all that time and the money to keep your head up and it seems like that’s how they kept you out.
Barry Cooper: It is crazy! After the Texas Rangers arrested us for the Odessa sting, Candi and I, the prosecutor dropped the charges. Three days after the prosecutor dropped the charges, I walked outside of my house and the motherfuckers arrested me again on a warrant for operating without a private investigator license. Like I said, they just hit me with so many arrests. I had to bond out and hire lawyers.
Austin Cut: Was there ever a specific turning point for you? Or was it more of a slow realization?
Barry Cooper: Well it was both. You know, I released the Never Get Busted videos ten years after I already quit law enforcement. So I had a chance to mature, raise my own family. Then when I met Candi, who is my current wife and soulmate of eight years now. She was my pot dealer, also the one who got me smoking pot instead of drinking vodka. She was the one who really opened my eyes to how rotten it was for me to have arrested all of those people. I’d already sensed that, and I’d already been having second, third, fourth, and fifth thoughts on what I had done. I had never been presented with the proof. Candi started showing me things on the internet about prohibition and it just blew me away, and that’s what really changed me.
Austin Cut: So she’s a huge influence on all of this?
Barry Cooper: Yes, was the largest influence on my change. And she still is the biggest influence in my life.
Austin Cut: Do you have many other influences?
Barry Cooper: Yes I do. Marc Emery is one of them. He owns Cannabis Culture magazine. He’s serving five years for selling marijuana seeds to the U.S. He’s a big activist. I talk to him almost daily through e-mail while he’s in prison. He is a big influence.
Raymond Madden, now, is a big influence on my life. That’s Yolanda’s father, the lady who we helped get out of prison. I have several lawyers that are big influences on my life. My manager out in L.A., he’s a great influence. So, yes, I have a circle of people that I trust.
Austin Cut: How about plans for the future. Assuming you do win your legal case, do you plan on continuing political races?
Barry Cooper: I’m definitely never going to run for politics again. I really believe in what Zeitgeist, the movie, teaches. It explains that politics and religion are such moving targets and they don’t work. Politics are different in America as opposed to China. Religion is as different in Iraq as it is in Canada. So since those two things are such moving targets and they haven’t worked for humanity, I believe that science is what we are going to have to turn to, to start running this world.
Austin Cut: Science?
Barry Cooper: Yes, science. I can conduct an experiment in the U.S. and get results and you can conduct the same experiment around the world and you can get the same results. You can’t do that with politics and religion. So, to me, politics is a broken equation similar to “two plus two equals six.” That’s politics to me. Everyone is arguing that the “two” is written incorrectly. They don’t realize that they whole solution to the problem is wrong to start with, so why argue the whole equation? It’s just wrong. Politics will never work. And never will religion. So until we go to science, we will keep repeating history.
Austin Cut: Had you been elected Attorney General, did you have big plans? I’d assume you’d meet stiff opposition as an office holder.
Barry Cooper: I did have a plan. I spelled that plan out to the media, which is what scared the other politicians to death, which is what caused Greg Abbott to sic the Texas Rangers on me.
My plan was to end the drug war in Texas overnight to prove to the rest of the U.S. that you can end the drug war. You can stop arresting people for nonviolent crimes and still have a safe state. I was going to be the sheriff of Texas and I was going to make Texas a safer place to live, starting out by removing all drug enforcement officers from the street and paying regular patrol officers $100,000 a year, instead of the salary they get now and can barely get by on. It would also attract more quality people, instead of the ignorant, overweight men and women we see in law enforcement today. I was going to end the drug war in this way.
I wasn’t going to be able to change the laws. But since the Attorney General is responsible for defending law suits filed against the State of Texas, I was going to call a meeting of all the chiefs and sheriffs. They were going to have to drive to Austin and attend a three-day seminar where I explained that if any of their officers made any type of search or arrest related to drugs that it would be okay, they could do that, they could place the person in jail, and they could still prosecute the person. But I was going to announce to the citizens that if they were searched or arrested for any drug violations, that it would be my opinion that it’s a fourth amendment violation and that I would approve the law suit, should they file one in federal court. It would cause cities and counties to instantly stop arresting for drugs because they couldn’t keep up and pay all the law suit money out.
Austin Cut: So are you going to stick mainly with internet activism in the future?
Barry Cooper: I’m going to continue my activism through the internet and through my expert witness program where I testify regarding police corruption. I’m really going to begin concentrating on the BarryCam.com project. That’s my website where I sell hidden cameras to film police. I have a second camera coming out that you can mount inside your automobile that comes with infrared. It records any traffic stops. I’m going to concentrate on that for a while and concentrate on this movie deal out in L.A. and see what happens.
![Barry Cooper's Permian Basin Drug Task Force badge, which he auctioned off to raise money for his Texas Attorney General campaign]
Barry Cooper's Permian Basin Drug Task Force badge, which he auctioned off to raise money for his Texas Attorney General campaign
A few days before the trial was supposed to happen, Barry Cooper sent me a message: “No trial. I plead to a super sweet deal ... had to protect informant that they were going to make me give up in trial.” Instead of the three-day, nine to five, grueling trial in Williamson County, Barry Cooper plead guilty to filing a false alarm or report and paid a $200 fine. He also got his Kopbusters tapes back and the charges of operating without a private investigators license were dropped against him.
A statement given by Barry Cooper’s daughter made it clear that the family had been through a lot. Other than getting Cooper’s son Zachary back (who was taken into protective custody after the raid), it sounds like there won’t be much going on but regrouping.
With a political campaign and reality TV show in the past, it’s anyone’s guess as to what Barry Cooper will do next. But you better keep an eye on him, because he sure as hell doesn’t seem to half-ass anything.
[Barry Cooper's Permian Basin Drug Task Force badge, which he auctioned off to raise money for his Texas Attorney General campaign]: http://austincut.com/sites/default/files/images/permian-basin-drug-task-force-badge.png "Barry Cooper's Permian Basin Drug Task Force badge, which he auctioned off to raise money for his Texas Attorney General campaign"