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Texas Rangers arrest Candi Cooper outside Austin home

Stephen C. Webster
True Slant
June 29, 2010

Update (below): Candi Cooper is free.

The wife of former 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 has a very real vendetta against 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.”

But, could this really 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.

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