[Humor] Cops take a turn at being entrapped
decibel at decibel.org
Tue Dec 9 02:29:23 UTC 2008
Gotcha! Radley Balko | December 6, 2008, 1:28pm
I've been somewhat skeptical of Barry Cooper, the former drug cop turned
pitchman for how-to-beat-the-cops videos. He comes off as more of a
huckster than a principled whistle-blower, which I think does the good
ideas he stands for (police reform) more harm than good.
But damn. I have to hand it to him. This might be one of the ballsiest
moves I've ever seen.
KopBusters rented a house in Odessa, Texas and began growing two small
Christmas trees under a grow light similar to those used for growing
marijuana. When faced with a suspected marijuana grow, the police usually
use illegal FLIR cameras and/or lie on the search warrant affidavit
claiming they have probable cause to raid the house. Instead of conducting
a proper investigation which usually leads to no probable cause, the Kops
lie on the affidavit claiming a confidential informant saw the plants
and/or the police could smell marijuana coming from the suspected house.
The trap was set and less than 24 hours later, the Odessa narcotics
unit raided the house only to find KopBuster???s attorney waiting under a
system of complex gadgetry and spy cameras that streamed online to the
KopBuster???s secret mobile office nearby.
To clarify just a bit, according to Cooper, there was nothing illegal going
on the bait house, just two evergreen trees and some grow lamps. There was
no probable cause. So a couple of questions come up. First, how did the
cops get turned on to the house in the first place? Cooper suspects they
were using thermal imaging equipment to detect the grow lamps, a practice
the Supreme Court has said is illegal. The second question is, what
probable cause did the police put on the affidavit to get a judge to sign
off on a search warrant? If there was nothing illegal going on in the
house, it's difficult to conceive of a scenario where either the police or
one of their informants didn't lie to get a warrant.
Cooper chose the Odessa police department for baiting because he believes
police there instructed an informant to plant marijuana on a woman named
Yolanda Madden. She's currently serving an eight-year sentence for
possession with intent to distribute. According to Cooper, the informant
actually admitted in federal court that he planted the marijuana. Madden
was convicted anyway.
The story's worth watching, not only to see if the cops themselves are held
accountable for this, but whether the local district attorney tries to come
up with a crime with which to charge Cooper and his assistants. I can't
imagine such a charge would get very far, but I wouldn't be surprised to
see someone try.
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