WATCH NEVER GET BUSTED at txlo.com/busted “I would start talking to Candi about how bad I felt about the stuff I did to people for having this marijuana, which I was enjoying and was healing me. She would say, ‘Yeah. It’s rotten what you did, Barry.’ ” WATCH A VIDEO OF OUR PHOTO SHOOT with Barry Cooper and the pig at txlo.com/pig was sued in federal court. The department settled, but Cooper left the force anyway, frustrated and angry that his superiors hadn’t defended him. He bounced around for a few years after that, opening several used-car lots, founding a church and even starting a cage-fighting business. But his life truly changed when he fell in love with his present wife, Candi, and began smoking the substance he’d spent years arresting people for. “I literally spent the next year literally in her bedroom, her and I growing closer together, talking and smoking pot,” he says. “I’d never eaten a pizza in bed before in my life. We would order pizza and smoke marijuana, and the first thing I’d do was laugh and laugh and laugh. I couldn’t believe the joy I was feeling. Then that would turn into crying. Candi knew I had a lot of guilt. I would start talking to her about how bad I felt about the stuff I did to people for having this marijuana, which I was enjoying and was healing me. She would say, ‘Yeah. It’s rotten what you did, Barry. But you were doing what you thought was right. The important thing now is people can change, and people will forgive you.” Cooper wanted to atone. So he created the Never Get Busted DVDs. He says he’s sold more than 50,000. But Cooper’s next big idea was even more outrageous. He decided he wanted to do more than just help potheads. He wanted to expose and punish the cops that put them in prison. And Cooper was just the guy to do it. He knew exactly how cops bend the law to put people in prison. So he decided to set up elaborate stings to catch cops doing illegal stuff, and film it for a reality TV show he wanted to create, called Kopbusters. IN 2008, Cooper targeted cops in Odessa, where he once worked, for his first Kopbuster sting operation. He believed the cops were still corrupt there, and he had a plan to prove it. And Cooper had a secret weaponan unlikely benefactor, one with deep pockets. His name was Raymond Madden, and he was a conservative middle-aged businessman who, for most of his life, trusted the police and voted tough on crime. Then his daughter Yolanda was arrested for having an ounce of methamphetamine and sentenced to eight years in prison. Madden was sure the police had planted the drugs on her. He claims it was a botched attempt to frame a dealer known as the Ice Queen, who, like his daughter, had moved to Odessa from Fort Worth. Madden has evidence to show the police haven’t been straightforward, to say the least. They contended that when they stopped the car, Yolanda immediately started crying and told them where the drugs were. Raymond Madden was told a patrol-car video of the stop didn’t existbut then, through his connections, Madden got a copy and it showed Yolanda had in fact denied she had drugs and did not give permission to search the car. Then, at her trial, a police informant testified that the police had made him plant the drugs on her. Madden spent years trying to get activists and reporters interested in the case, to no avail. Then he came across Cooper on the Internet. “The first thing I saw of Cooper was his video,” says Madden. “I thought, `What a nut job this guy is!’ But I was desperate. I knew the truth, but I was running out of options.” So Madden flew to East Texas with a suitcase full of papers related to the case. Cooper spent a few hours looking through them and became convinced that Yolanda had been framed. He told Madden that he couldn’t get Yolanda out of prison, but he could embarrass the police and get the press to look into her case. And, sure enough, an unlikely partnership was born. “Barry knew a lot of the players in this deal because he’d been involved in the Odessa scene,” says Raymond. “And he had a knowledge that I didn’t have. He knew how cops think…. I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ ” Cooper’s plan went like this: He would set up a fake marijuana grow house and get the Odessa police to raid it illegally. Inside he’d put a single grow light over a couple of tiny Christmas treesCooper’s idea of a punch line. He’d invite local reporters along to catch the police looking like fools when they busted in. Madden spent more than $30,000 setting this all up. Cooper rented a house, wired it with four cameras, bought laptops to watch the video streaming live, hired a crew and a lawyer and put them all up in hotels while they set the trap. To bait the police, Cooper’s crew arranged for an anonymous letter to be sent to a local church, where they knew it would be promptly given to the police. The letter promised a house full of pot plants and $19,000 in drug money that would be gone by the next day. An anonymous tip alone is not enough for a search warrant; the police have to have hard evidence that something illegal is going on. Cooper was hoping they’d search the house illegally while he filmed everything. So the letter went out. Fourteen hours later, Cooper and his team were sitting in the hotel room watching the webcams when the cops burst in the back door of the house with guns drawn. The police walked into the living room and stood in front of a poster Cooper hung on the wall that told them they’re on Kopbusters. They lowered their guns. One said, “We’ve been set up, huh.” Cooper jumped in the car to go confront the cops before they left. He was hyped up, swearing at traffic lights, clearly high on adrenaline, just like the old days. Finally, he and his camera crew arrived and jumped out of the car, yelling, “I’m Barry Cooper with Kopbusters. What are you doing in my house?” Cooper ran into the street wearing a bright red T-shirt with “Free Yolanda” printed on it. He started hollering at the police about how they clearly lied to get a search warrant. A comical scene unfolded. At one point, the cop told him he would be arrested if he didn’t get out of the street, and said, “We’re cooperating here, we’re not trying to give no one no hassle.” To which Barry replied, “Yes you are! You planted drugs on Yolanda and she’s in prison because of it. That’s giving people a hassle!” Eventually, the local news crews arrived and the cops just left. That night, the local TV news was full of coverage of the sting, with reporters examining whether it was legal to enter a home on such flimsy evidence. The police alienated even more residents when they threatened to subpoena the local paper, the Odessa American, to get the names of people posting antipolice comments on articles about the sting. An informal poll done by the paper found 79 percent thought the sting had exposed problems with the Odessa Police Department. Raymond got the publicity he was after. A quarter-million people watched the raid on YouTube. 18 1 THE TEXAS OBSERVER WWW.TEXASOBSERVER.ORG
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