CBS affiliate: Pot activist Barry Cooper ‘still at large’

Photo credit: WILLIAM DESHAZER / Dallas Morning News

A West Texas CBS affiliate dedicated a segment last night to Candi Cooper’s arrest by the Texas Rangers. It was actually quite comprehensive and good, and none of what’s to follow in my ruminations should be considered a slight to their work.

Still, the reporter’s final words made me choke with laughter and surprise: “Barry Cooper, himself, is still at large.”

Still at large. For a Class B misdemeanor? We’re talking about a citation-level offense, not Al Capone. These people are not felons and they are not violent, but Barry is “still at large”? I love that this comes from a CBS affiliate. Yes, this is in fact accurate, but it also illustrates the Benny Hill-like nature of this weird tale.

While I appreciate the political sensitivities at stake for our resident power structure, it’s offensive to think that a minor infraction like False Report to a Peace Officer deserves attention by the Texas Rangers. I’m certain the Odessa police are more than capable of handing their own affairs.

The Rangers occupy a position of greater lore in this state, and stooping to this level … is below them. Worse yet, by their mere presence they make Cooper notable again. They’re helping to turn a minor thorn in their side into an anti-prohibition rock star, just like I suspect Barry has planned all along.

Here’s what Michael May over at the Texas Observer had to say

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.

And furthermore, ‘Cheers!’ to him for transplanting my ‘drug war insurgent‘ meme into the Observer‘s headline.

Yes, Barry Cooper “is still at large,” though I’m told he’ll be turning himself in sometime rather soon.

Regaining his freedom via bail bond will cost $200: a paltry sum compared to the value of the ironclad image our most elite law enforcement unit decided to tarnish this week. A swift, snarling reaction should have been expected from Williamson County, which raided the family’s home on a Class B misdemeanor, but every Texan holds the Rangers in higher regard than this.

Barry and Candi are weaving a modern day Bonny and Clyde story, and we all get to watch. Thanks to Williamson County and the Texas Rangers, this man could well soon be the goddamned Erin Brockovich of pot.

Until there’s more to tell, enjoy this video from CBS 7 in West Texas.

Texas Rangers arrest Candi Cooper outside Austin home

Update (below): Candi Cooper is free.

The wife of Texas drug cop turned anti-prohibition crusader Barry Cooper has been arrested, according to a phone call I just received.

Cooper claimed that a woman knocked on their door and told his wife Candi that she’d ran into their vehicle and wanted to exchange insurance information. However, when she stepped outside officers were allegedly waiting in the wings with handcuffs.

“This is so fucked up dude, the Texas Rangers are outside my home right now trying to figure out what to do,” Barry claimed in a frantic phone call. “My lawyer is pissed. I’m not going outside. They have an arrest warrant for she and I, but they don’t have a search warrant so they’re not kicking in my door just yet.”

Authorities have yet to confirm the arrest. Children are present in the residence and could be heard in the background of the call. The Coopers vehicle was indeed damaged, according to one of the children overheard in the background audio.

(Update: the vehicle had some preexisting damage, so police were in no way responsible for that. They apparently used the claim as a ploy to draw the Coopers out of their home. The younger voice heard on the call was apparently Barry’s oldest daughter.)

Cooper claimed these latest dealings with law enforcement are related to his first ‘KopBusters’ operation in Odessa, Texas, where he set up a fake marijuana grow house fitted with cameras and Christmas trees. The sting was the first of a series for Cooper, who saw his now-abandoned reality show project as a way to make an example of dishonest officers.

While he was not arrested at that time, the Texas Rangers had been conducting a further investigation. In that case, officers were tipped off to the alleged grow operation by an anonymous letter left for a local pastor, who turned it over to police.

Making a false report to a police officer is a Class B misdemeanor.

Watch this space for further updates.

Update, 3:10 p.m.

Barry has released a video featuring a confrontational conversation he allegedly had with an unidentified Texas Ranger in March 2009. The video was published to YouTube over a year ago, but was just now released to the public.

The edits in the last 30 seconds of video were apparently made to emphasize the man telling Cooper he’d come to Austin and “whoop your ass.” It is below.

I’m with Cooper now. He’s sent his kids to stay with friends and plans to vanish for a couple days until his attorney can arrange for an amicable resolution to his arrest warrant. At this moment he’s pacing back and forth in his living room, cursing and smoking, calling as many people as possible to spread the word.

I can confirm that his wife is in Travis County jail.

Cooper showed me a video clip of the Texas Rangers standing outside his apartment in south Austin as he tried to communicate through a window. On the video, an officer wearing a wide-brimmed cowboy hat, a light blue shirt and pressed slacks informed Cooper that the arrest is indeed related to making a false report to a peace officer in Odessa, Texas.

Because of this, Odessa has up to 10 days to extradite Candi: a scary truth for Barry, who sounds on the verge of tears at the moment.

“Oh my God if they keep her for 10 days or more, I don’t know what I’ll do,” he said, tugging on a cigarette. “This is unbelievable. It’s possible that they could come back with a warrant for resisting arrest. I’ve never seen a cop kick in a door for that alone, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Update, 4:18 a.m.

After a long night of high-tension phone calls, loosely made plans and a madcap scramble to get a vehicle not associated with Barry into downtown Austin to pick up his wife, Candi Cooper is free as of roughly 3 a.m.

I was along for the whole strange trip.

The record should show that Candi’s arrest was attributed to the charge of making a false report to a peace officer during her husband’s political activism in Odessa, Texas nearly 19 months ago.

Also for the record: I’ve been told by multiple people involved in the Odessa sting that Candi was not the author of an anonymous letter left for a local pastor, who ultimately advised police of the alleged marijuana grow operation by way of turning over the missive.

It was a due to a Class B misdemeanor that the state’s most elite police force, the Texas Rangers, became involved in this weird, politically charged case.

Their presence at the Coopers’ yesterday convinced me beyond all reasonable doubt that Texas law enforcement really has it out for these people.

The Rangers are not some backwater cop shop. They could have called the Coopers’ attorney and demanded they turn themselves in. They could have pulled Barry over at any time. They could have been direct about the matter and achieved compliance, straightaway … Instead, officers chose to have a female knock on the family’s door and falsely claim their vehicle had been damaged, luring Candi outside whereupon an arrest was quickly made.

“That’s exactly how we used to do it when I was a cop,” Cooper told me. “I’ve actually done that to people myself.”

Could this be karmic justice served Texas-style? Or is Candi’s arrest the business end of a political vendetta against her husband?

Seeing what I’ve seen, both this week and in the 17 months since I began sporadically writing about Cooper … I’m going with both.

An arrest warrant for Barry is still outstanding, but he’s professed an intent to turn himself in. Stay tuned.

Gulf coast resident: BP looking to ‘cut costs’, put on show for politicians

Here’s video of a single testimony given at an emergency citizens summit in Louisiana on June 19.

This is by far the most stunning coverage of the Gulf oil crisis I’ve seen yet.

Her name is Kindra Arnesen, a fisherman’s wife from Venice, Louisiana. She was the source of a riveting CNN piece on June 3 and a May 13 blog by the National Resources Defense Council.

If you missed both of those, stop whatever you are doing — right now — and give this woman 15 minutes of your time.

As if all that is not bad enough … Guess what else is brewing in the Gulf.