08 December 2008

Police Faked With False Grow House

via Sleepless in Midland

In Odessa, Texas, a group calling itself "Kopbusters" builds a grow house - complete in every detail needed to grow marijuana. Then they put fir saplings in it instead and turn it on, waiting for police to respond. They did.
Odessa Texas, The police that Barry once worked with kicked down the door to a fake grow house where their attorney was handcuffed, later to be released.

. . .

They busted the cops by making a fake grow room that pumped out a lot of heat and waited.

The cops, instead of doing what they should have done, went straight for a search warrant and kicked the door in.

Why'd they do this? Because, somehow, making the police look foolish is going to get another case, wherein a woman was found guilty of dealing pot, re-opened. I'm not sure how that's supposed to happen, but that's their given reason.

I am curious as to what the police "should have done" rather than show probable cause and get a search warrant. A knock-and-talk? Nobody was in the house. For all we know they tried. I doubt it, because they wouldn't have wanted to warn an illegal grow operation, but they may have.

"Kopbusters" clearly set up a probable cause situation. Heck, if you listen to the main guy being interviewed on TV he even says they used "encrypted emails" and "Wal*Mart blowup cellphones" while setting this up. They did everything criminals would do except they substituted plants at the end of it all. Furthermore, Geo, over at Sleepless, says there was also an anonymous tip. Anonymous tip + corroborating high energy use + corroborating empty house > probable cause.

Sleepless in Midland has a link to a YouTube video of the news report of this incident. However, here's a video of the actual search:

It ain't exactly the KGB breaking down the door at 3 am to drag someone off to the gulag. It's 5 pm and three police enter. They don't seem to have broken in the front door; in fact, it looks like a key is swinging from the door when they enter. Video doesn't show whether they knocked or not. They do a sweep of the house. They find the shirt and poster and then all the cameras. Pictures are taken of the shirt and poster (evidence for whatever Texas' statute they will eventually prosecute these people under). In the end the police are chuckling about everything.

I don't see this as damning. Embarrasing? Maybe. At least we know that's the spin that's being aimed for. Still, I don't see police doing a search of a house that walks like a duck and quacks like a duck causing any change because someone put a lot of effort into dressing a goose up like a duck.


Anonymous said...

As I understand it, the KopBusters folks have a theory that the Odessa narcotics unit has a habit of taking shortcuts with the probably cause. They're hoping that the cops invented details---smell of marijuana, incriminating trash, suspicious foot traffic, informants, controlled drug buys---that just didn't happen. They're hoping the cops perjured themselves on the search warrant.

I'm not sure if that would allow them to get another case by the same department re-opened, but it serves Barry Cooper's twin purposes of making trouble for drug cops and attracting attention to himself.

As for the raid itself, I thought the cops handled that very well. They followed somebody leaving the house, arrested him, took his keys, and went back to enter the house. It's safe, peaceful, and doesn't involve shooting anyone's dogs. I wish more raids were done that way.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I'm trying to get a copy of the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant. I'm not sure we will learn anything from it, but if I can get it I'll most likely post it at my site.

Anonymous said...

Ok, when is it a crime to "create probable cause"? The problem with trying to "bust a cop" is like making a citizen's arrest of a cop. The citizen goes to jail. The cop goes free.

Anonymous said...

I set up a fake grow opperation once, complete with boobie traps designed to cause minor physical injury because of a bunch of local cops with no respect at all for the warrant requirement, and courts that allowed them to get one after the fact. someoen tipped them off that it was rigged though. i dismantled it after about 6 months. When the cops are under no legal restraint to obey the law because the courts will ignore their misconduct in order to prevent (other) criminals from walking free, then nothing short of "street justice" ( poetic justice, to be sure) will protect the rights and liberties of the citizens.

Michael said...

He was trying to show how they side-stepped procedure and conducted an illegal search.

If we have to abide by the law, police officers should have to abide by it as well. Inventing details is not acceptable and he was trying to document them perjuring themselves.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to read this blog and get a look at an honest difference in worldview.

Is my feeling that I detect a bit of disdain (or worse?) for the people who set up the police my imagination? Or do you think what they did is wrong?

It's sad, but true, that police officers lie as often (or more so) when testifying as they tell the truth. Some (many? most?) defendants in criminal cases commit crimes. Unfortunately, the number quite literally framed by the police is much higher than acceptable in a civilized society.

This is what the Constitution was meant to prevent. Our refusal to take a more literal approach to that document is reprehensible.

I do enjoy, however, getting a view from a thoughtful person who does not see the world as I do. It makes me think more deeply, if nothing else.

Ken Lammers said...


If I believed this was done with altruistic motives I'd be more sympathetic. I don't. This was a publicity stunt done which exploited someone already convicted and desparate as an excuse.

Donte Russo said...

First of all I once was a cop and most cops are like everyone else’s; however there are some who by ether ignorance of the law or just disrespect for the law violate it. The oath I took I swore to uphold the constitution of VA, and that of The United States. I took this very seriously and did all I could to see that I followed judicial procedures, if I agreed or not. Trying to be impartial as a police officer is a full time job and those who practice that are never acknowledged. Those who violate that oath bring a stigma on all officers and the judicial system.

Granted there is room for improvements for the police, courts, prosecution, and defense attorneys. There are many valid case of police misconduct and there are many frivolous cases. I would hope we all look at the facts before making a determination and not be prejudice to ether side’s view before knowing these facts. Unfortunately some people take advantage of a known wrong doing, for their agendas; this happens not only by the public, it also happens in the judicial system.

I however believe it is exception, not the rule. I also would love to see the warrant affidavit; however they did win the publicity battle. Remember North Vietnam? They won a war but lost all most all battles, using the same technique. However if the police were wrong, they should answer. If they did establish under a reasonable circumstance that probable cause did exist then there will be no problem.

The problem is the public on the most part do not know what probable cause is. They think it is what they want it to be, this is not uncommon with Miranda warnings as I am sure we all know. Most people believe if they make a statement to the police it can’t be use against them if they were not read Miranda. They do not do legal research or they could simply see it only applies to a custodial interrogation. Maybe if the cops were good investigators they found a legal means of probable cause and therefore the warrant would have been valid regardless if there was not any illegal activity afoot.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately what you are claiming was legitimate probable cause does not meet the burden. A greenhouse is legal. A high energy bill is legal. An tip from a person who didn’t reveal their identity is not sufficient either. This situation was enough for the police to launch an investigation into the situation, but nowhere near enough for a constitutional search warrant to be issued. Reasonable suspicion is not probable cause for a warrant and that is all the police had at the time it was issued.

Ken Lammers said...

Yes, potentially legal/illegal things can be bases for probable cause. Each one alone might be merely enough for reasonable articulable suspicion, but they can be additive. They were.