Former drug officer Barry Cooper debuts 'KopBusters' trailer
An anonymous tipster appeared to be harrying cops.
It sounded like the plot of the latest TV pseudo-thriller: a rogue cop, a woman scorned, a helpless father, a drug grower, a small town pastor and police that play fast and loose with the constitution, all colliding after an anonymous letter tipped off police to an alleged marijuana farm in a Texas town.
Barry Cooper, a 39-year-old former drug cop turned filmmaker, said that short, poorly written and unattributed letter was the key that tied together motley crew of characters in his latest documentary. A preview of that documentary, a reality show Cooper has dubbed "KopBusters," is available exclusively from RAW STORY at the bottom of this page.
"I'm leaving Odessa because my boyfriend is out of control," an anonymous female allegedly wrote to the Odessa police on Dec. 3. "I can't talk to the police because I have traffic warrants."
The mysterious tipster claimed 80 marijuana plants were nearing harvest at a small house in the west Texas town, and that officers only had a few days to nab the culprit.
"He does not know I'm telling and thinks I don't know about him cheating on me," she continued. "He has been growing pot for a long time and never get caught and he is getting sloppy."
Based on the tip, police conducted surveillance on the house and determined several of the general statements about the property to be factual.
Within 12 hours, Judge Bill McCoy of the 258th District Court had signed a search warrant based upon the letter and the police department's periphery follow-up, and the raid was on.
Little did the officers know, inside the house, the flora bathed beneath bright, heat-emitting grow lights wasn't marijuana but, instead, miniature Christmas trees.
As officers invaded with guns drawn, it quickly became apparent they'd been had. A handwritten poster proclaimed they had just become part of Cooper's new reality show, 'KopBusters.'
And bust the cops, he did. According to the Odessa American, Terry Pierce, who also works as an associate police chaplain, denies giving the officers any letter.
However, on Monday the American reported that the local police made a mistake filling out the affidavit. Instead of the police chaplain, First United Pentacostal Church pastor Terry Pugh delivered the letter. Odessa City Manager Richard Morton insisted it was a simple mistake: the letter was allegedly given to officers with "Pastor Terry" written on an open envelope.
"Someone played on my sentiments," Pugh told the American. "Had I known that, I would have never been involved in it. I thought I was helping the police catch bad guys."
"It wasn't just this erroneous affidavit, but also the judge granted a bad warrant based solely on an anonymous tip," said Cooper. "The Supreme Court has said an anonymous tip is not enough. Maybe we should make a new show called 'JudgeBusters.'"
Cooper originally planned his first sting for an undisclosed location in Washington state. But after being contacted by Odessa resident Raymond Madden, whose daughter Yolanda was arrested in 2005 for possessing methamphetamine, 'KopBusters' shifted course.
"The police got the wrong person," claims Yolanda's father on the 'KopBusters' trailer. "They thought she was someone else. Once they made the bust, they had to go through with it. You can't say, 'Oh, excuse me, we planted drugs.'"
A man who answered the telephone at the Odessa police department declined comment.
The sting was designed, Cooper said, to embarrass the cops that arrested Yolonda, and to put a public face on police neglect of the Fourth Amendment.
Of course, it likely crossed Cooper's mind that several of his former partners are cops in Odessa. Or that his former narcotics task force was once based there. But the way he describes it, revenge is not atop his list. To Cooper, 'KopBusters' is almost a humanitarian mission.
"Free Yolanda!" he yells in the footage. "Ya'll planted drugs on Yolanda, and we're gonna get her released and get the crooked cops busted. If you're a good cop, great. But you're not. You raided my house, and nothing's going on."
The American quoted Cooper saying he believes the police "[got] together to make up this f---ing letter." Thermal imaging cameras, he claimed to RAW STORY, were used to seek out heat from the grow lamps inside his rented house: an investigatory technique the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional, but is still frequently used, especially in aerial observation.
"What I'm telling people is that anyone could have sent that letter," he said. "Anyone who gets pissed off at someone else could have dropped a letter in the offering basket at church, or sent an anonymous tip to police. That's the point of the court's logic: to prevent people from triggering false raids."
RAW STORY pressed him on the letter's origin, but Cooper stuck to his story.
"No, really, that's all I'm saying about the letter," he insisted. "Anybody could have written it. It doesn't matter who it came from. An anonymous tip is not enough to raid a home."
And while Cooper may be the most obvious suspected source of the letter, there's no evidence thus far to tie him to it; a good thing for him, because a false crime report is itself a crime.
Naturally, the Odessa police department is looking into pressing charges. Likewise, Cooper said he plans to file a $10 million federal lawsuit. Both remain to be seen.
Another sting, he boasted, is coming very soon. "I could do it as quickly as 30 days."
Cooper is asking the public to submit tips about dirty 'kops' to [email protected].
'KopBusters: Vol. 1' is set for release in July.
The following video is a RAW STORY exclusive, courtesy of Kopbusters.com.
Download video via RawReplay.com
Former drug officer launches 'KopBusters' reality show
First raw footage of 'KopBusters' sting on Odessa police