Texas Rangers come after Drug War Insurgent Barry Cooper

by Published on
by Matt Wright-Steel
Barry Cooper

In April, our cover story was about Barry Cooper, the ex-narcotics officer whose become a drug war insurgent. Barry knows from experience the kind of illegal tactics cops routinely use to trap suspected drug dealers and users, and started to set up stings to turn those tactics back on the law, and managed to catch corrupt cops in action for an online reality show he called “Kopbusters.” The operations were risky, to say the least. Taunting cops is like kicking a snake, and they’ve been striking back. (Barry has since cancelled Kopbusters, although video of his stings remains online.) They’ve now sent the legendary Texas Rangers, supposedly the state’s most elite force, to arrest Barry’s wife Candi in front of their children at their Austin home for a misdemeanor offense of “filing a false report”—for a Kopbusters sting that happened more than a year and a half ago.

 

Barry called yesterday, just after Candi was arrested. He said a woman knocked on the door of their South Austin apartment, saying she hit their car in the parking lot. When Candi walked outside to exchange insurance information, she was put in handcuffs in front of her teenage daughter, for a sting they did in Odessa a year ago (and featured in the Observer story.) Barry’s daughter ran inside to tell him what had happened. Apparently the Rangers did not have a warrant to enter the house, so Cooper and the Rangers engaged in a screaming match through the front door. Barry said the Rangers also have a warrant for Barry’s arrest, and he’s now contemplating when to turn himself in. Barry also posted a video on youtube that shows a conversation he had with a Ranger who threatened to “whup his ass.” The video shows Barry’s charm with law enforcement . . . he’s clearly taunting the Ranger, calling him “son” and “boy” and swearing at him several times.  It’s not surprising that the Rangers want to put him in his place, but our police should be above petty vendettas — and it’s hard to see how putting elite officers on the trial of a misdemeanor offense is anything but a petty vendetta. In short, they’ve done nothing but prove Barry’s contention that law enforcement priorities in this state are skewed at best, and corrupt at their worst.

Michael May is a former Observer managing editor. He’s now a freelance journalist based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.