IT WAS THE YEAR BEFORE AN ELECTION, in 1999, and everybody wanted to look good. The county hired Tom Coleman to lead a drug task force. I had a record, and I had gone to prison in 1990 for possession of cocaine. I did three months, though I had been framed for that too. The sheriff and the DA knew about my record, and since they had this task force, they told Coleman to get Joe Moore. He had come by my house a few times, and I had chased him away and cussed him out. When somebody starts coming to your house because you’re poor and he’s asking about dope, you just know he’s a cop. I thought if I stayed away from him he wouldn’t mess with me.
Then came July 23, 1999. It was a regular day, and I was lying in bed about seven in the morning. My friend Cookie called me and said the task force had picked her daughter up. So I got up and stopped by the courthouse, where there were maybe fifteen task-force people. I couldn’t find Cookie’s daughter and was driving past the jailhouse when the sirens went off behind me. Three policemen aimed their guns at me, so I put my hands up. They said, “We got you on two counts of cocaine.” Even though they had no evidence—it was my word against Tom Coleman’s—I knew I was going back to prison, since I was already on parole. You do anything and they roll you back in. They do what they want.
One of them read me my rights and put handcuffs on me. When we got back to the jailhouse, the police walked me right past the Amarillo news camera. There were about 24 of us in the same cell,