Southland Wiki
John Cooper
John Cooper.jpg
Basic Facts
Age early 40s
Occupation LAPD Training Officer
Rank Senior Lead Officer
Division Hollywood Division
Home Mt. Washington, LA
Spouse Laurie Cooper (divorced)
Lovers Caesar
Family Father (in prison for rape and murder; did stints in prison during John's youth; John implies his father abused his mother)
Hobbies Gardening
Hangouts Gay Bars in West Hollywood
Medical Back pain from various work-related injuries; went into therapy after divorce
Education Minimal (Presumably high school level)
Portrayed By
Michael Cudlitz

Officer John Cooper is a veteran officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, Cooper is a Police Officer III+1, which is a Senior Lead Officer, but is serving as a field training officer in the Hollywood Division in West Bureau.


Little is known of Cooper's background. He has said that his father, who taught him to shoot guns, was in and out of prison during Cooper's childhood. His father has been incarcerated since 1991 for the rape and murder of Cooper's 16 year-old girlfriend. He joined the LAPD in 1992 because it was the only job that someone of his educational level could start out earning $30,000 a year at the time. Cooper was previously married to Laurie, a nurse. They are divorced but remain on friendly terms, although Cooper refused her request to donate sperm for her to conceive a child.

Cooper suffers from chronic back pain which he attributes to an on-the-job injury. He wears a back brace and self-medicates with pain pills, which he obtains from his ex-wife, from drug dealers and from the scenes of crimes he assists in investigating. Cooper has refused to "go through channels" to receive treatment, saying that should he do so he would be taken off the streets and that if he could not work on the streets, he "may as well put a bullet in [his] head". He has, however, sought relief through alternative medicine techniques like acupuncture. After finally beginning to understand he has a problem, Cooper decides to quit self-medicating. He soon begins using again, leading to a negative effect on his job performance and an angry confrontation with Sherman. Following his failure to back Sherman up in pursuit of a rape suspect, Sherman tells Cooper that either he will check himself into rehab or Sherman will advise the watch commander to order Cooper to take a drug test. Season three ends with Cooper checking into rehab for a medical detox. He returns to active duty in season four, however, and is the sixth-oldest officer on patrol duty. Cooper intends to not retire until he has "six stripes", or 30 years of service.

In the Season 5 finale he is last seen after being shot multiple times by police officers after attacking his neighbour. Michael Cudlitz later said, "I didn't die in that scene". Cooper's ultimate fate remains unknown.


Cooper is gay but apparently closeted to his co-workers. Southland initially dealt with his sexuality obliquely, with the closest he has been shown to coming out being a conversation with his partner/trainee, Officer Ben Sherman. When the two are returning from the funeral of a friend of Cooper's named Clark who committed suicide, Cooper tells Sherman that he and Laurie used to double date Clark and his wife. After Cooper's divorce, he used to see Clark in gay bars and they avoided each other. Other indicators of his sexuality included his frequenting a bar with an all-male clientèle (where he picked up another man) and the intimation of an affectionate relationship with a man named Caesar who helped Cooper build a retaining wall in his garden. Caesar was later seen in Cooper's bed. In season 4 he tries to save a suicidal teen, and when the teen asks if he is gay, Cooper replies "yes".

Officer-Involved Shootings