Ector County prosecutors will not prosecute former narcotics agent turned marijuana activist Barry N. Cooper and two others on charges filed this summer by the Texas Rangers in connection with the December 2008 Kopbusters hoax.
County Attorney Cindy Weir-Nutter said Tuesday her office rejected the Class B misdemeanor charge of filing a false report to a peace officer because the charge does not reflect the facts of the case.
“The statute in Texas requires that the false report be made during an investigation, and there was no ongoing investigation,” Weir-Nutter said. “You have to be able to prove all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The dismissal includes the same misdemeanor charge filed against Cooper’s wife, Candi Cooper, and 50-year-old Tammy Grimes of Gardendale, who was accused of being an accomplice in the Kopbusters hoax. The decision to dismiss the charges came despite a lengthy criminal investigation into a faux marijuana grow house that Cooper organized as a ruse to expose what he insisted was corruption and incompetence within the Odessa Police Department.
Cooper said he set up the grow house after he was hired by the father of Yolanda Jean Madden, an Odessa woman who for months claimed police conspired to plant drugs on her. Madden, who had her conviction set aside for a new trial, recently pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and was sentenced to time served.
The investigation spanned more than a year and was eventually handed over to Texas Ranger Brian Burney, who decided to file charges after determining Cooper’s fingerprints were found on an anonymous letter sent to police alerting them of the grow house on Lotteman Drive.
Burney filed an affidavit saying it was “obvious that the information given to the Odessa Police Department was false and deceptive with the intent to cause a reaction from officers who were conducting the investigation.”
“It’s kind of a big slap in the face to the Texas Rangers,” Cooper said Tuesday. “I know the law. It’s not hard to read.”
“This further proves that these cops are retaliating on us,” Cooper said.
After Cooper’s arrest, the Odessa Police Department issued a statement saying the charges filed by the Texas Rangers served to vindicate the police officers who “performed professionally and appropriately” while investigating the grow house and Madden’s case.
On Tuesday, Police Chief Tim Burton declined to comment, but Cpl. Sherrie Carruth issued a statement saying, “we respect the prosecutorial decision” and thanking the Rangers and county attorney’s office for their efforts. Odessa officials have been mostly mum throughout the case.
It was not clear Tuesday whether the Rangers would file an amended charge in the case. Burney did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. A Department of Public Safety spokesman declined to comment “at this time.”
Cooper, who recently filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Texas Rangers and several law enforcement officials, said Tuesday he will likely remove the city of Odessa as a defendant in the lawsuit.
“I’m only after the corruption,” Cooper said.
Cooper still faces a similar misdemeanor charge of filing a false report in connection with another Kopbuster hoax in Williamson County. He said Tuesday he intends to fight that charge and expects to go to trial sometime in late November.
The Williamson County hoax also resulted in a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana in Travis County after authorities searched his residence. Cooper said he is trying to work out a plea agreement in that case.