Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cops get schooled on entrapment in Fourth Amendment sting

I've long thought that too many civil liberties advocates (myself included) are reactive -- forever chasing the last horrendous abuse, only to be blind-sided by the next one. What we need are more pro-freedom advocates who are confrontational and take the battle to the authorities. Of course, that would probably require somebody with a bankroll to spend on good deeds, or else some way to make such confrontations into a commercial opportunity so they're self-financing. Sort of like what ex-cop Barry Cooper did when he set a trap for Odessa, Texas, police and filmed the results for his online reality show, KopBusters. According to Cooper's Website:
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.

Cooper and company were hired by Raymond Madden, the father of Yolanda Madden, an Odessa woman convicted in 2005 of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Yolanda's supporters say a key witness in the case admitted in court to planting the drugs -- but that she was convicted anyway and sent to prison.

Cooper is a former Texas cop and drug warrior who turned against prohibition after seeing the consequences of arrests for non-violent, consensual acts on the people he brought in. "This war on people is a failed policy. We have more prisoners of this war in jail then ever before yet even the DEA admits we have more potent drugs and a larger supply of drugs available than ever before."

He's become an able self-promoter who makes money selling videos that teach people how to go about their lives, including growing, using and selling marijuana, without raising police interest. That's opened him up for some criticism, but it also means he may well be among the people best-positioned and most strongly motivated to keep setting traps for cops who cut corners and violate constitutional rights. After all, he stands to make money selling videos of the abuses.

Wow, civil liberties activism as a profit-making enterprise. I love it. It will be interesting to see how the Odessa police react to the trap into which they walked. I suppose they could try to press criminal charges of some sort, but if Cooper and company are telling the truth, all they did was engage in perfectly legal activity and wait for the police to misinterpret the situation, probably through the use of illegal search techniques backed by fraudulent claims made to secure a warrant. Under the circumstances, any attempts at retaliation are just going to dig a deeper hole for the local authorities.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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