The William Cooper Tragedy

This is a letter to the editor I sent in to the Virginian Pilot. Most people think botched raids are isolated incidents, but a quick tour of google news will show you these types of things happen regularly across the nation. With the Ryan Fredrick case and now the William Cooper incident here in Hampton Roads, I hope we can raise enough awarness that our local police forces will rethink there policies becasue they seem to think the status quo is a-ok.

How many “isolated” incidents that result in the death of an innocent man must occur before our local police departments question their tactics? Unfortunately, many people are not aware of the death of William Cooper due to lack of media coverage. Maybe it is not interesting enough to make the papers, since it is a sequel to the Ryan Fredrick case. Hampton police officers received a tip from an unnamed informant that Mr. Cooper, a 69 year old retiree with a laundry list of medical conditions, sold methadone from his home. Instead of investigating the claims to verify the tip or knocking on his door to serve a warrant, the police decided an armed assault was the best course of action. As they kicked in the door, Mr. Cooper pulled a weapon and was killed in a barrage of gun fire. A softball field is behind the house. According to witnesses, the game was called off after the 10 year old girls playing at the time of the raid hit the ground to dodge the bullets. Over 100 people, mostly children, were present. The police found no methadone, just one bottle of prescription OxyContin among his other pills, used to treat his numerous ailments. Now members of the Virginia Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Task Force, which includes the cities of Hampton and Newport News, The State Police, and local prosecutors, are divvying up the assets seized from his house. The Hampton Police Force is saying they did everything right and the issue should be dropped. Instead of shrugging the incident off and saying police work is dangerous, why not figure out a way to make it less dangerous and less deadly? When will we stop these armed raids? When will they stop trusting these informants? The public deserves answers.

2 Responses to The William Cooper Tragedy

  1. John Wilburn says:

    Rich,

    “A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves” – Edward R. Murrow

    ‘Nuff said.

  2. Len Rothman says:

    Another botched raid and an innocent man is dead.

    The Frederick case was “justified” to avoid the destruction of evidence.

    The “evidence” was a garage full of marijuana plants, which, if they existed would have need a wood chipper to dispose of, but, of course, we know they did not exist.

    In this case, the evidence are a few, mostly empty, bottles of prescription painkiller for an elderly man with cataracts and back pain.

    In both of these cases, the warrants could have been issued outside the home.

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