» An Article on Marcus Cook That Appeared in The Dallas Morning News
An Article on Marcus Cook That Appeared in The Dallas Morning News
An Article on Marcus Cook That Appeared in The Dallas Morning News
Written By "Gayle Reaves"
Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Its no secret that I am not a fan of Marcus
Cook. Cook is the president of the Texas Police K-9 Association. The fact
is that Cook was one of the founders of this organization. The members
just recently realized that Cook wrote the by-laws and set himself up
to be president for life. Considering Cooks personality, this should
not come as a surprise to anyone. Cook threw me off the Texas Police K-9
Association when I disagreed with a few of his opinions. After doing a
little research into his background, this also does not surprise me. The
following article appeared in the Dallas Morning News. It gives an insight
into Marcus Cook. I have my opinion of this man and the type of law enforcement
officer and human being that he is. I will leave it up to you to form
your own opinion.
If you would like to follow
this story from the beginning, check out the following articles on my
My advice to Mr. Cook is
to get out of law enforcement!
Lake Dallas police Sgt. Marcus C. Cook proudly displays
pictures on the Internet of himself, his canine partner Sampson, his patrol
car, even his black panthers.
However, his cyberspace bio includes no hint of the
allegations aired recently in a Denton courtroom and in the pages of a
Allegations about threats to kill a compliant prisoner,
Sampson let loose on a handcuffed suspect, a young man's death on a dark
road, a mysterious killing in Dallas.
The incidents are part of a storm that seems to have
2"-square-mile lake town along Interstate 35E. At the eye of the
storm is Sgt. Marcus Cook.
I believe there's a very dangerous man out there,
said Denton lawyer Grace Weatherly, who represented two former officers
in lawsuits against Lake Dallas. She won a $30,000 settlement in one case,
and lost the more recent one.
I've talked to enough people who have convinced
me that Sgt. Cook does not need to be carrying a weapon.
Sgt. Cook, a former Officer of the Year, said the complaints
are lies or misrepresentations and that some critics are jealous that
he won the sergeant's job instead of them in November 1995.
Lake Dallas Police Chief Nick Ristagno called Sgt. Cook
an excellent crime-fighter. He said he has no concerns about his performance.
Corinth Police Officer Kevin Tyson was knocked down
and bitten by Sgt. Cook's police dog. He also was present when the German
Shepherd bit a handcuffed prisoner.
Officer Tyson said many officers in nearby towns want
nothing to do with Sgt. Cook.
Every officer in Hickory Creek and Corinth feels
that way, he said. If someone needs help, we're going to help
them... But at the same time, I don't want to be around him if I can help
Chief Ristagno said the controversy is rooted in jealousy
against Sgt. Cook, 31. The son of a longtime Dallas police officer has
risen from trainee to supervisor in less than two years.
A recent civil jury decision upholding the firing of
Officer Jerry Kelley vindicated his department, the chief said.
Lake Dallas has 10 full-time police officers, plus dispatchers
and administrators. In the last three years, four Lake Dallas officers
have been fired. All say they were punished for questioning Sgt. Cook's
performance. At least three others have quit.
Sgt. Cook has sued five former colleagues and a former
City Council member for defamation.
When you've got as many lawsuits as you have police
officers, you've got problems, said Dallas attorney Rick Bunch,
a former Dallas policeman who represents three other ex-Lake Dallas officers.
There's always somebody going to be sued, yelling
that you did something wrong. That is typical in law enforcement,
Sgt. Cook said.
But some law enforcement officers don't consider typical
... or proper Sgt. Cook's actions in numerous incidents:
pi UChance Peoples, a 17-year-old burglary suspect
believed to be armed, had been stopped by Officers Mark Simpson and Corrycq
Blount on Dec. 8, 1995. When Sgt. Cook reached the scene, he chambered
a round in his shotgun, placed it at the suspect's temple and threatened
to blow his head off if he moved.
We thought he was really about to shoot this kid
on the ground, Officer Blount said.
Sgt. Cook said then-Officer Simpson, a rookie with a
few days experience, was fumbling his gun and handcuffs, and that the
suspect was upright, moving and not even partially handcuffed.
The other two officers testified last month in former
Officer Kelley's lawsuit that the prisoner was spread-eagled on the ground,
obeying all commands, and that one wrist was already cuffed when Sgt.
Cook arrived. Mr. Simpson had been a Lake Dallas officer for 10 months
before the incident.
pi UMany of the questions raised about Sgt. Cook
have to do with his canine partner Sampson. Sgt. Cook released Sampson
on a handcuffed, resisting prisoner in May 1995. Sgt. Cook said the action
was proper because Shannon Swink was not under complete control. He said
the dog's bite did not draw blood.
Mr. Swink, now in prison, said he has the scars to prove
it did. Several other police dog handlers said their agencies would have
Sgt. William Buchanan, head of the Dallas Police Department
canine squad, said his department's policy is that "it must be a deadly
force situation before a dog can be turned loose.''
It is no more proper to allow a dog to bite a handcuffed
subject "than it is to strike a handcuffed person,'' said Richard Dickson,
a police dog handler and investigator with the Yoakum County district
Mr. Dickson is one of several dog handlers around the
country with whom Sgt. Cook has disagreed over dog training methods and
the operation of the Texas K9 Police Association for Certification and
Standards, which Sgt. Cook founded.
pi UOn Jan. 28, 1996, Sgt. Cook sent Sampson
after a suspect who fled with several officers on his heels. Sampson
down Officer Tyson and bit his arm. Despite the thickness of his jacket,
the bite "broke the skin just from the pressure. I busted my knee open
when I hit ground. I had a mark on my arm for a good six months.''
A second officer reported that Sampson bit him painfully
on the foot while he was trying to handcuff the suspect and tried to bite
a third officer.
Sgt. Cook and Chief Ristagno agreed that the dog should
not have been released so quickly.
pi USgt. Cook stopped Gilberto Rico and his two
passengers ... girlfriend Catalina Ramirez, 15, and a relative, Angelica
Rico ... for a traffic violation on the night of May 5, 1996.
When he found that Mr. Rico had no driver's license
or proof of insurance, Sgt. Cook impounded the 18-year-old's car. Later
that night, as Mr. Rico and the young women walked along a dark, shoulder-less
road near Lake Dallas, Mr. Rico was struck and killed by a hit-and-run
Sgt. Cook said he had taken the three young people
to a telephone at a nearby apartment complex and asked if he could drive
them somewhere. He said Ms. Ramirez, who spoke the best English of
the three, declined.
Apartment manager Shannon Woolaver said she remembers
the trio standing near the pay phone. Angelica Rico, 25, said Ms. Ramirez
told her she asked Sgt. Cook to take them home to Denton, but he refused.
She said they did use the phone but couldn't find anyone to pick them
Mr. Rico's parents are suing Lake Dallas for negligence.
Many people see Sgt. Marcus Cook as friendly, efficient
and even charming. His personnel files contain notes of praise from citizens
and his bosses.
He has more commendations in his file than anybody,
Chief Ristagno said. He's a worker ... with Marcus, it's 110 percent.
But in several instances, public records and interviews
disagree with Sgt. Cook's version of his background.
Sgt. Cook, 31, told The Dallas Morning News that all
of his employment background has been in animal control, law enforcement
or security work. He worked as a dogcatcher in The Colony before coming
to Lake Dallas as a police dispatcher in 1993.
The only private companies with which he has worked,
he said, are his current security firm and an earlier job with another
security company, Dallas Recon.
Several former colleagues said Sgt. Cook talked about
working for a helicopter or aviation services company.
Sgt. Cook disagreed. That's not me, he told
The News. State and Dallas county records and lawsuit files connect Sgt.
Cook as the registrant or director of numerous helicopter and air charter
companies, most apparently inactive. Several shared a business address
with Dallas Recon. Another aviation firm and a former landlord obtained
judgments against Mr. Cook and his companies.
The question of helicopter companies is also a part
of the most serious allegation raised against Sgt. Cook: that he told
several colleagues he had once shot a man in Dallas, while living there
and working for a helicopter company.
One helicopter company registered by Marcus C. Cook
lists the owner's address as 1714 Browder St. in Dallas. Sgt. Cook said
he never lived there.
In the interview, he said at different times that he
was born and raised in Dallas and that he had never lived in Dallas.
Hickory Creek police Sgt. Robin Robertson said Sgt.
Cook told her the story of the alleged Dallas shooting. She is married
to Phillip Robertson, one of the officers who alleges he was fired by
Lake Dallas police in retaliation for criticizing Sgt. Cook. She said
she briefly dated Marcus Cook before her marriage.
She identified 1714 Browder St. as the building Mr.
Cook pointed out as his former residence and the place where the shooting
That's the house, she said. He said
there was a man trying to jimmy the door. The guy started to run. He said
he shot him in the back and killed him... He was bragging about it.
She said Sgt. Cook told her the incident was investigated
as a drive-by murder.
Dallas police records show one unsolved shooting of
a man in the general vicinity of the Browder Street address, in 1991,
which several witnesses said was a drive-by shooting. Dallas police said
they had no reason to believe Sgt. Cook was involved in that crime.
Former Officer Simpson, not a party to any of the lawsuits,
testified last month that Sgt. Cook told him a version of the same story.
Lake Dallas Mayor Jerry McCutcheon said the alleged
shooting was checked out and it didn't happen. Sgt. Cook said he never
shot anyone and never told anyone that he did.
Sgt. Cook has sued Robin and Phillip Robertson, Officer
Kelley, Officer Blount, Nick Oprea ... another fired Lake Dallas officer
who is suing the city ... and a former Lake Dallas council member for
Sgt. Cook's defamation lawsuit was filed just before
Mr. Kelley's case came to trial. As Officer Blount waited to testify in
Mr. Kelley's action, Sgt. Cook told him he, too, was being sued for slander.
Sgt. Cook testified that he was not threatening Officer
Blount. Sgt. Cook's attorney, Julius Staev, said the timing of the suit
was just coincidence.''
Controversy over Marcus Cook's performance began when
he was in training, according to his trainer, former Lake Dallas Sgt.
From the start, in March 1994, he didn't think
he had to obey the rules and regulations of the department. she
said. When the chief and lieutenant repeatedly let him get by with
it, it became clear he didn't have to follow them.
Ms. Oglesbee said she made her complaints clear to her
trainee. Officer Cook, she said, wrote a five-page memo complaining that
she was harassing him, and threatening to sue her.
Sgt. Cook told The News lf that he got along fine with
Sgt. Oglesbee. If she had a problem with me, she never told me,
he said. Chief Ristagno declined to answer questions about Ms. Oglesbee's
training of Sgt. Cook.
Ms. Oglesbee said she believes the memo contributed
to her firing, although it was not given as the official reason. She sued
the city for sex discrimination and won a $30,000 settlement.
Nobody stopped Marcus. I tried. I lost my job,
she said. Sgt. Cook has given conflicting information over the years on
his educational background.
He has said under oath that he has completed almost
four years of college study toward a degree with the School
of Animal Science at Scranton University, and that he was a few
hours short of a bachelor of science degree.
On the witness stand a few weeks ago, he agreed that
the Scranton correspondence school was not a university. He testified
that he has about 16 hours of college credit. Most bachelor's degrees
require a minimum of about 120 semester credit hours.
Chief Ristagno said his department does not require
officers to have any college credit, so I don't know why I would
be concerned about any discrepancies in Sgt. Cook's educational
The former colleagues who have criticized Sgt. Cook
have blemishes on their own records, and possible reasons for resenting
him. Officer Kelley was disciplined several times before complaining about
Sgt. Cook and had been demoted before being fired. Phillip Robertson was
fired from another department, but it was changed to a resignation following
But a group selected for their impartiality have said
they are concerned about the Lake Dallas Police Department and Marcus
A Denton County jury found that Lake Dallas was justified
in firing Officer Kelley. Nonetheless, some jurors later told trial participants
that Sgt. Cook worried them.
I don't think any of us believed the [current]
Lake Dallas police officers who testified, said one juror, who asked
not to be identified
Sgt. Cook probably could turn out to be good,
but he's too eager right now, she said. I'd be scared if he