‘KopBuster’ Barry Cooper gets a movie deal, sues Texas authorities
Stephen C. Webster
Monday, August 2nd, 2010
Director credits reports by RAW STORY for compelling decision on film rights
When former Texas police officer Barry Cooper hatched his scheme to sell "KopBusters," an anti-cop reality show, he had no idea what might come of it.
"I was just determined to make things right for what I had done in all my years as a cop, busting people for pot mostly," he's said. "But, you know, things kinda got complicated."
Two years and several media stunts later, the family's home has been invaded by officers with guns drawn, who would tell the Child Protection Services (CPS) that the Coopers were "unsuitable" parents and endangering their children -- a possible felony offense. Officers claimed a gram of marijuana was found in the home, which was enough for Candi's ex-husband to claim temporary custody of her youngest son, Zach. Then the Texas Rangers came swooping in, arresting Candi in front of her home and leaving Barry with little option but to turn himself in, which he did with a typical showman's flare.
Now both are facing up to a year in jail on two separate charges of Making a False Report to a Peace Officer, a Class B misdemeanor offense, for what they insist was civil disobedience.
To an objective observer, this all may sound like a series of unfortunate events -- but for Barry and Candi, finally feeling the heat from legal fees and the continuing costs of operating an online business, a big payday really is just around the corner.
That's because Cooper, under the guidance of Hollywood talent manager David Ballard, has signed an option arrangement with producer/director Brett Ratner, perhaps best known for his films "Rush Hour," "Red Dragon" and "X-Men: The Last Stand". Longtime Ratner friend and production partner Franck Khalfoun has committed to write and direct.
Khalfoun's most recent work, "Wrong Turn at Tahoe," is a mobster movie that stars Harvey Keitel and Cuba Gooding Jr. He also directed the thriller "P2," about a woman stalked through a parking garage by a manipulative killer.
That Ratner and Khalfoun were both on-board with the film has been known to those close to Cooper for some time, but the revelation was officially made in public as an aside in Cooper's recently-filed civil suit, which accuses Texas police and judges, among others, of engaging in an opportunistic conspiracy against Barry and his family.
"I'm really excited to be telling Barry Cooper's story in film," Khalfoun told RAW STORY in an exclusive interview. "He's such a character and his experiences are so incredible. His life is so strange it practically begs to be known."
He specified that coverage by this reporter, published on RAW STORY and other sites, played a significant role in compelling their decision to put Cooper's life to film.
"I want to focus on Barry as a character, his life with a father in the military, becoming a cop, a preacher, a used car salesman and a fight promoter, only to turn out like this," Khalfoun said. "It's fascinating."
The script is still in the earliest phase of production and there is no release timeline just yet, but 2010 is a strange year. Across California, as the state considers legalizing and regulating marijuana, pot is a hot topic. It seems logical that Hollywood would hope to raise an anti-prohibition icon like Cooper.
"I mean, he kind-of is a super hero, if you think about it," Khalfoun said. "Barry so exemplifies the personal change I just see as desperately needed across the whole country."
"Barry and Candi are kind-of like Bonnie and Clyde," Ballard, Barry's manager, told RAW STORY during a recent meeting in Los Angeles. "And Barry himself, he's kind of like the Erin Brockovich of pot. I mean, come on: he's Brad Pitt and [Candi] is Angelina. The time is so right for their story to be told."
Khalfoun agreed: "It's so hard to get producers interested in these things in Hollywood, unless you've got something based on a book or a story that already has a fan base and followers like this one. With everything that's going on with the whole legalization issue, for a story like Barry's, I think the time has come."
A copy of Cooper's option agreement was examined by RAW STORY, but has not yet been made available to the public.
Barry sues the cops
Behind the big news, Barry and Candi seem to be growing desperate. With an ever-tightening financial situation and precarious legal position, Barry decided to follow-through on his threat of civil action against Texas authorities, penning a 27-page lawsuit himself and filing without an attorney.
Cooper names a laundry-list of defendants in the suit, ranging from his ex-wife and his current wife's ex-husband, to judges who signed warrants or are overseeing pending cases against him and, of course, police officers with the State of Texas, Williamson County and Odessa.
As the document was still in the process of being served, none of the defendants contacted by RAW STORY would comment. Cooper is seeking $40,000,000 in damages -- up from a threatened $30,000,000 -- but says he'll drop the monetary claim if every officer and judge he's named is fired from their respective positions.
The suit goes into surprising detail about items some observers would not know to be connected to the family's latest round of legal troubles. It even contains a number of this reporter's words, detailing Barry's and Candi's arrests. It goes on to claim an opportunistic conspiracy by Texas law enforcement, which allegedly sought to silence the couple's activism.
Even if the suit is thrown out, which would seem likely given Barry's lack of expertise in drafting legal documents, it could still accomplish his secondary motivation: getting a new judge in Candi's child custody battle.
"That's how you can do that," Barry has said before, though not in the context of his own civil suit. "If you're in a civil trial and need a new judge, file a cheap lawsuit pro se and [file a motion so that] the judge will be forced to recuse his or herself."
Though he doesn't openly state that to be the goal of his suit, it seems obvious that's one of several things he's hoping for, as the child custody battle in Upshur County, Texas has not yet turned in Candi's favor. (Update: Barry's motion to recuse was denied over the phone shortly after this story's publication. The final hearings in the child custody battle begin later this week.)
The complete civil suit is available online.
"I don't know how this is ultimately gonna end up, but we're just going to keep on doing what we're doing until all the marijuana prisoners are free," Cooper said, summarizing his chances in the criminal cases pending against him. "I keep wondering when our karma will turn around, when I'll be paid up for all those people I hurt as a cop. I hope it's soon, 'cause we've got a lot of work to do."