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Mar. 30 2010 - 5:05 pm | 23,789 views | 1 recommendation | 47 comments

Police: Teaching Kids to Mistrust Government Makes Couple ‘Unsuitable’ Parents

Williamson County Courthouse, in Georgetown, Texas

Texans, beware: If you teach your kids that the “government is out to harm them,” police in Williamson County might just deem you an “unsuitable” parent.

That startling claim, leveled by officers in Child Protective Services documents detailing an investigation into an Austin-area activist couple, should be enough to give reason for pause to any staunch conservative in the state.

The allegation was made against drug reform activist filmmakers Barry and Candi Cooper, whose home was recently raided and searched after the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department claimed Barry’s voice was heard in the background audio of an allegedly false police report.

Once in the couple’s home, officers discovered a small amount of marijuana and charged the Coopers with Class B misdemeanors, resulting in both their arrests. Each immediately bonded out of jail and paid a small fine. Days later, while Candi’s youngest son was visiting his father in east Texas, Child Protective Services contacted the Coopers, revealing that the incident could cost them not only custody of the boy, but also their freedom on felony child endangerment charges.

After CPS interviewed the couple, Travis County Deputy District Attorney Dayna Blazey pronounced both Coopers to be fit parents, whose children are healthy, happy and “well cared for.”

“[There] is nothing to indicate that the kids are at risk,” she wrote.

A message requesting the deputy DA’s comment on this story went unanswered at time of publication.

Her conclusion, which falls at the end of documents published below, is almost odd following the numerous pages of text entered by police, who seemingly describe an alternate reality.

Among their claims — that Barry and Candi regularly give illicit drugs to their children, that they allow and encourage other kids to use drugs in their home, that they’ve mentally abused their children by telling them that marijuana is good and anti-drug efforts are riddled with lies — the most extreme is that the Coopers are “unsuitable” parents because they create an environment in which the children learn their “government is out to harm them.”

The allegation is found atop page five of the CPS report.

In another completely dumbfounding, ironic entry, Sgt. Gary Haston of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department — the officer whose testimony appears on the original search warrant affidavit — actually claims he observed the children “crying for no reason” as armed officers invaded their home. [Emphasis added.]

He also claims that Barry “hates” his father and does not believe in church, as though this information would somehow be relevant to the CPS agents.

Haston, who Cooper described as Williamson County’s “head of narcotics,” has an extensive history with drug interdiction as a police officer. He was even the 2008-2009 vice president for the Texas Narcotic Officers Association Central Region, according to a memo circulated by the association. It was his testimony that gave officers access to the Coopers’ residence and files for the alleged misdemeanor offense of filing a false police report.

A request for comment left with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department went unanswered at time of publication.

“In my 19 years of experience with criminal defense matters, a search warrant for a misdemeanor charge is certainly unusual,” wrote Minnesota attorney Maury D. Beaulier, who had no prior knowledge of the Coopers’ case. “It indicates to me that this is a targeted investigation. It may be targeted because it is believed to be a part of a greater crime or conspiracy, or, perhaps, because there are political motivations at work.”

While searching through the Coopers’ private data, police discovered a photograph of a minor in the shower, nude from the bust up. The image was a risque self-portrait shot by one of the adolescent children, who later took sole responsibility for the photo. Both parents claimed they knew nothing about it before the issue was raised to them by authorities. Ultimately, the photo held no bearing on their case and the minor was warned to be cautious with digital imaging equipment. Because of the individual’s age, all identifying information has been removed from the documents published below.

In a court hearing Tuesday, the Coopers were unsuccessful in re-obtaining custody of Zachary, Candi’s seven-year-old who is currently under the care of his father in Upshur County, Texas. The court did not issue a ruling, as matters of geographic limitations have yet to be addressed. Barry and Candi are seeking to have the custody battle in Travis County, but it’s still a matter of dispute. Lawyers for the Coopers and Zachary Johnston’s father brokered limited visitation rights for Candi, but Barry is required to stay away from the boy for the time being.

Because of the nature of Texas’ drug laws and their status as nationally-known political activists, the Coopers are facing the very real possibility of losing Zach entirely, with future contact only allowed in the context of supervised visitation.

“I just don’t know what I’ll do if we lose Zach,” Barry said. “That would be the most horrible thing to ever happen to me in my entire life.”

The 19-page CPS report follows.


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3 T/S Member Comments Called Out, 47 Total Comments
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  1. collapse expand

    Please, let the government allow Texas to secede from the Union. They already live in an alternate reality, don’t respect the constitution or the rule of law, and likely have executed more innocent people than any other state in the union. I’m an Independent Progressive, and these people are not “conservatives,” but right-wing bigots that believe in a “Police State” and have no business being allowed to have any control over the people of their state(sic).

    • collapse expand

      Stephen and I both live in Texas, and we don’t want to move. Well, I can’t speak for Stephen. But things would get much worse for us if Texas seceded. We were our own country once already, and we had to beg to be allowed into the union.

      Heck, Houston mayor Anise Parker is one of the most powerful homosexual politicians in the country. We’re getting there, just slowly. Perhaps Jim Webb’s Criminal Justice Commission Act can passed and eventually get the ball rolling on nationally rethinking our pot laws.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    I hate to be cynical here but what did the guy expect? As a former Texas cop (cooper’s the never get caught again guy right?) he should have known that calling b.s. on the drug war and making his former colleagues look stupid on the internet is likely to get you killed. But he’s famous now so they’re choosing the path of least resistance- the kids.
    The CPS doc makes it clear they didn’t have jack shit, but that’s the beauty part- in Texas you need things like probable cause or even reasonable suspicion.
    In a state where black and latino motorists are frequently relieved of the cash they’re carrying without charges or arrest- a state that prides itself on executing the mentally retarded and foreign nationals- the state where the war on drugs gave itself away in Tulia…
    Well, you just don’t play chicken with the cops in the Lone Star. At least not if you value your life or the well-being of your kids.
    “Those cameras are more dangerous than any narcotic.”
    -The entirely dishonorable Elijah Muhammad

  3. collapse expand

    I had a run in with the Texas DPS a few years ago on an interstate highway. When I asked why I had been pulled over, he repied that “You look like an old hippie”. He then asked if he could search my truck. Most of the law enforcement officials and citizens in Texas are good folk. A few aren’t. These Williamson County officials need to be investigated and prosecuted for malfeasance. Luckily we still have the Texas Rangers here whose job it to do this. Sic em, Boys..

  4. collapse expand

    Truth is being revealed and it is hard for many to accept here is a website of mine that should open some eyes if you are not aware. It is a religious right for us to have Kaneh Bosm at our disposal to help us discern both good and evil. http://www.truth-4-life.org

  5. collapse expand

    I’ll give you ONE reason why teaching your kids to mistrust the government makes you a GOOD PARENT.

    “No study can NOW prove that there is a significant difference between milk that came from cows treated with rBST and milk that came from cows not treated with rBST.”

    How many lawyers do you think Monsanto paid to make the FDA (government) enforce that warning label? Only the most naive fools would believe what it says.

  6. collapse expand

    I live in Odessa, TX and here is what CPS did to my family. I am using their own report, pretty gutsy to put the lies on paper, don’t you think?
    § 261.107. FALSE REPORT; CRIMINAL PENALTY; CIVIL PENALTY. (a) A person commits an offense if, with the intent to deceive, the person knowingly makes a report as provided in this chapter that is false. An offense under this subsection is a state jail felony unless it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person has previously been convicted under this section, in which case the offense is a felony of the third degree.

    This is very clear to everyone involved:
    “…The’MO stated that she does not have reliable transportation to pick the OV up from the police station…”
    “…Deputy Mitchell said (Me)told Law enforcement to release (Daughter) to the people she was with because (me) did not have reliable transportation…”
    What was I supposed to do at 2:30 in the morning? Steal a car? Walk? Hire a taxi to go 100 miles?

    This is what CPS has decided to base their case on:
    “…The OV(16 yo f) ran away and MO/AP will not come get her from the Police station.” False Reporting
    “…(me) stated she was not going to pick (daughter) up…” Again False reporting
    “… (me) stated to Hector Medina she was not going to pick her up…” Again false reporting.
    “…Jennifer said to RTB RAPR of (daughter)by (me)because (me) expressed she would not go pick up (daughter) for Big Lake, TX.” Again False reporting.
    “…Jennifer stated to RTB NSUP of (daughter)by (me)because (I) did not pick up the child when law enforcement called (Me)…” Again False reporting.

    …”The MO told the PD to release the OV to the boys that she was with.” That was my only option at that time. “The PD did not feel comfortable doing this.” On what grounds did he have to “not feel comfortable” with releasing her to her friend? “The PO has no reason to hold the OV at this time or to place the OV in juvenile hall.” They said they had no reason to hold neither her nor her adult friend, they wouldn’t even hold her for a few hours allowing me time to get a way up there.

    “The allegation does meet the statutory definition of Refusal to accept parental responsibility as follows: Failure by the person responsible for the child?s care, custody, or welfare to permit the child to return to the child?s home without arranging for the necessary care for the child after the child has been absent from the home for any reason, including having been in residential placement or having run away.” I never had the opportunity to make arrangements, BLPD would not hold her long enough for me to arrange anything. OPD officer Whitfield and Hector Medina were too busy harassing me from 2:30 am to about 3:30 am that morning to be of any help. I will not stand by and be bullied by any law enforcement officer or CPS worker.

    These are the “services” the judge ordered and I agreed to:

    “(me) and CPS agreed on orders… (Daughter) can have visitation with (friend she was with in Big Lake) and CPS would determine the visits time and location. (Me)(am)to do a physiological evaluation. (I)(am) to pay $100 dollars in child support to the department. (I) shall attend counseling, parenting classes, and family counseling.”

    These are the services that CPS then decided to impose on me:

    Drug and alcohol assessment, random drug tests, Psychaitric assessment, Psychological assessment, anger management, couseling, parenting classes and child support even though:

    “What drug/alcohol history does any home member have according to previous history?

    There is no indication of drug or alcohol”

    Another issue I have with this agency is all “services” they provided were conflict of interest. They were provided by CPS workers hired by CPS at CPS offices. That is conflict of interest. The counseling provider was Theresa Valero who cancelled on me after 3 sessions because I had gotten caught up at work. She had scheduled the classes every Friday at lunch making it very difficult for me to get over to the CPS office without leaving work early or returning late and still having the hour that she scheduled even after I made it known to her how difficult it was going to be for me to make it to the appointments. As a result of her inflexibility, I missed two appointments and was told she would no longer see me. I didn’t like her anyway. I knew she was not looking out for my best interest. The parenting class consisted of a rotten tooth lady coming over to my house that didn’t like dogs, would not sit in the house because of the dogs barking, reading from a book that by her own, and caseworker AJ Morgan’s admission, did not apply to my situation, telling me how absolutely wonderful her children were – though she had made her daughter feel so guilty about being alone on Halloween that her daughter and her daughter’s friend went over to her house to watch movies and that she would call her son at odd hours of the night because she missed him and was lonely – she told the judge that this was the worst house she’d ever been in because my couch was messed up, there were holes in the walls, I needed to paint and the light in the living room wasn’t sufficient. I was only able to put up with her for 3 sessions. I have been going to one that was referred to me by Centers for Children and Family since early December and I love it. They do not judge me there, they actually have material that applies to my situation and have yet to run out of information, deals with other families and is more like a support group than a class.

    “Does previous history indicate mental health issues with anyone living in the home? If so, what were the diagnoses- and what was the treatment if any? Does history indicate that they have been on medications in the past and were they complaint?

    (I am) said to schezophrenic but there is no mentioning of treatment. (I was) also in depression and was not taking her medications as advised by her MHMR counselor.”

    Again false reporting. I have never been depressed or diagnosed as schizophrenic or prescribed medication for any supposed mental illness. I demand justice for my daughter. She desparately wants to come home to her friends and her family and instead she is alone in a foster home 200 miles away. Marcy Burke (Jennifer Shinsako) told the foster mother at the last court hearing that all contact with me was to be supervised so all contact with me has been suspended. The only mention of supervision of anything were supervised weekly visits with my daughter and I haven’t seen her since March 2. CPS overstepped their bounds and the judge just laughs and laughs at the court hearings. My daughter is now more traumatized than she ever was before and the last time I saw her was at thier little “circle of support for (My Daughter)” meeting which was more like “circle of tell you how this is all your fault” and “We are CPS and we can do whatever we want to do” meeting. CPS is also attacking two other families that I know about, one had a child killed chasing his mom to the store and they took all 4 other children away and the other is accusing the father of beating on his children with no evidence what-so- ever.

  7. collapse expand

    I don’t think that this is a conservative/liberal or Texas issue. It’s a WORLD problem: police abusing their power. Thankfully, we don’t have it too bad in the USA. But, it seems like it’s getting worse. Maybe it’s just my imagination – or that we have more bloggers and Youtube videos that capture these “police abuse of power” situations. The fact that we have cameras in almost every cell phone is a good thing. Police are getting caught abusing. In the past they could just lie in their reports to portray the situation the way THEY wanted it to look.

    Some recent videos I’ve seen on Youtube:

    - 10 year old girl tased after she wouldn’t take a bath. Mom called the police and the police couldn’t handle the 10 year old either.

    - 14 year old girl tased in head after running away from mom/police in a park. Mom brought girl to the station because the girl was sexting.

    - Paraplegic dumped from wheelchair when police didn’t believe that they were handicapped. Report of this police assault was never filed until after a complaint was filed and it became a news story.

    - Pregnant mom tased while sitting behind wheel in her car. Apparently the police felt that she could potentially use her car as a weapon. She was just upset and never made such a threat.

    Sadly, the courts are still backing these officers too often. Abuse of power and manipulating police reports is a travesty.

  8. collapse expand

    I am dealing with cps myself and the case against was built all on lies and to made to look crazy and being stocked by them to the point of being scared to go out side cause of what lies are going to get told and again to be used to keep us from our kids. Before cps I have never been away from my babies more then a few hours a couple of times in there life and our life is about our kids and they are very spoiled we do everything with them never been to daycare. I stay home and spend all my time playing games teaching them things before they start school my kids loves books we read together we listen to music and sing on tv and drive their cars around the yard, pick berries, pick flowers, at eight months old my I thought them to wessel and call our horses and raised animals. My girl is my sun shine and is always happy my youngest son reminds me of an old man cause he stands with his hands behind his back like it wasn’t me and his sister helps to make sure he don’t do anything that could hurt him, so was so cute when he would try and clime on the table she would say help help and I would oh no she got hurt but that wasn’t the case and she just didn’t want here brother to get hurt by falling with that said they never get
    out of my sight other to go to the bathroom.Prior to The day the investigator cheryl gokey
    showed up I had four cops at my
    house at differnt times to fill a
    report for my neighbor on a thief
    and one for a call that my kids were in the road naked and a four whiler about ran over them. I told the cop if so were is the person on the 4 wheeler at and why would someone drive away with babies in the road to get killed. Then that knock on the door cps and this same woman told me three months before she could take my kids from me for being over whelmed and my heart just stopped and almost had a panic attack, and that was all I could think of and I was scared to death because of her statement she made she was there because of my bazaar behavior and keep bulling me to let her in and I told her I don’t trust you and she said I’m calling my supperviser and I’m beside myself and can’t get ahold of my husband and finally got some one to come over because I didn’t trust her but didn’t know I called the person that made the report against me my mother. I get told I have to go with her to cps office and I go and get attacked by just about everyone in that office and do there drug test and was positive for cocaine and meth and I asked for it to be sent off cause of fales positive and that didn’t happen and they took my kids for neglectful supervision that was so a lie everyone knows I watch my kids way better then anyone. They tell my husband to file for a divorce and he could get the kids back so he did that and didn’t tell me until I get server the day before cps court and me asking him if we needed a lawyer, and a detective shows up at our house to say or threatened to put me in jail for calling cps and saying I was going to kill them all, he surched my vehicle for guns and voice reconition said it was my voice and I said let me hear it cause it wasn’t me and I was going to the hospital I’m losing my mind not having my kids. So at court I get pated down for weapons and was wearing a dress and could not leave to get a lawyer to represent me and got denied legal aid and judge removed my from courtroom for shaking my head about the lies and saying my right have totally been vilated and I told them I even have disabilities and they are so breaking the law. Were does americans with disabilities law come in at and they are so breaking to law. And was made to do another drug test and they couldn’t make there mind up if I was clean or dirty, I knew I was with no dought in my mind and had test to prove it. When my husband came out and no one told me anything and I was hysterical and could not drive, my world was so upside down all I want are my kids to hold. 7 months later did all there services and still don’t have my kids home yet and have been alienated from my oldest son and keep getting put off and my lawyer hasn’t got off his butt to get them home and all I want are my kids and cps out of our life and I can never get these seven months back I lost with my kids, oh yea haven’t got unsupervised visits yet and when I called the supervisor and asked why my kids are not home and completed all services she said give her a minute and she called back and said there was no reason that cause they don’t have grounds to to keep them from us, but the kids attorney and attorney add thinks is to traumatic to just send them home from grand parents house because of the bond they made, hello people its there grand parents it was there before cps took them from me and destroyed our family completely probably beyond repair. Cps needs to be closed down because the kids are not put first and my kids weren’t abused in anyway till cps took them my little girl has been told not to cry and she so wants to and beggs to come home with us for ever it breaks my heart and it is nothing but torcher by cps and when you say anything there happy in foster care and have adjusted well and seems very happy and it don’t bother then not to be home. I know I myself that this has been nothing but mental abuse to families and no wonder life is so differently then it was thirty years ago and if parents didn’t have to be scared of cps there would be better acting kids and we could put family together then tear them apart. I have rights to be a parent and raise them better then I was. Not that I had a bad child hood

  9. collapse expand

    Though I am no pot smoker it seems this is the way our justice system is rolling. It would appear we are living in a militant state. America the land of the free. It would seem the Williamson County Sheriff’s office needs a new sheriff. In today’s media age sheriff’s are vying for screen time, like the bigot in Arizona, Arapaio (I don’t care if I spelled his name wrong). Professionalism and fairness are out of game. The actions by the sheriff is a form of terror on the community it serves. Speak out and go behind bars. Sheriff’s like Arapaio do not deserve their positions. Absolute power corrupts into tyranny.

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    About Me

    My name is Stephen. I am a News Junkie and an assistant editor at RawStory.com. My work has appeared in publications both printed and online, including The Dallas Business Journal, the cover of Fort Worth Weekly and in the pages of The Dallas Morning News, Austin Monthly, Envy Magazine and others. I also covered the rebirth of the U.S. peace movement first-hand for The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, starting with the city's first public screening of 'Fahrenheit 9/11' all the way through the end of Cindy Sheehan's stay. I've seen my reporting discussed in publications such as Time, Wired, Reason, The Washington Post, D Magazine, The Guardian UK, Media Matters, ThinkProgress, Alternet, Cannabis Culture, 1-UP, Destructoid, Kotaku, GameSpot, G4TV and many others. I am currently open for freelance assignments and actively seeking a literary agent. You can follow me on Twitter @StephenCWebster, or from Facebook.com/StephenCWebster.

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