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Friday, July 12, 2019

Oh, this does not help...

Years ago (I wanna say before 2010) we hired an officer from the northeast, and there was always something not quite right. Like many cops, my buddies and I would often eat at "friendy" restaurants, places that gave us a discount (often 50%). He would refuse to eat there, saying they should comp us. Occasionally we would be comped, or someone would pay our bill, and we were always grateful for this courtesy. But again, this just seemed off.

Times goes on, this officer gets off probation, and he's on the street along. And our internal affairs unit starts getting complaints from people saying he would stop them, bring them out, hand cuff them, search their wallet or pockets, then release them with a warning. The problem is the man he stopped would have $500.00 when he was stopped, and $300-$400 when he left.

IA took the initial complainat with a grain of salt, every cop gets complainted on. But when it's up to five, seven, ten complaints, and they are similar, this is not right. So they stung him. An IA sergeant dressed as a "usual suspect," with five one-hundred dollar bills in his pocket. He got stopped by the suspect officer, cuffed, searched and released. But with three one-hundred dollar bills. A SWAT team took him down five minutes later, they recovered the money in his sock (marked bills), and he went to jail in the back of his patrol car, wearing his own handcuffs. If memory serves, he took a plea for five years, Official Oppression and Aggravated Robbery.

Yes, there are dirty cops out here, and this don't look good.
A Florida cop planted meth on random drivers, police say. One lost custody of his daughter.

The meth seemed to appear out of thin air.

Benjamin Bowling couldn’t figure it out. He had been clean ever since his release from prison on a DUI conviction, but now a Jackson County, Fla., sheriff’s deputy was accusing him of possessing a minuscule amount of methamphetamine.

It was October 2017 and Bowling was on his way to the store to pick up diapers with his friend Shelly Smith when they saw the flashing lights swirl in the rearview mirror. He had been out of prison for less than a year, doing everything he could to get his life back on track. He passed all his drug tests. He had recently been awarded custody of his daughter. But deputy Zachary Wester was escalating a traffic stop for swerving over a white line into a search for illicit drugs.

Bowling and Smith, confident they had nothing to hide, told Wester to go ahead and search the car after he claimed to smell marijuana, assuring him he wouldn’t find any.

He emerged with meth.

Now, nearly two years after Bowling lost custody of the daughter he had just gotten back, after he was convicted of felony meth possession, he knows exactly how it got there. Wester, state investigators now say, planted it himself — and Bowling was far from the only victim.

Wester, who was fired last September, was arrested Wednesday and charged with 52 counts of racketeering, false imprisonment, official misconduct, fabricating evidence and possession of controlled substances, among other charges. He’s accused of indiscriminately targeting innocent drivers and hauling them off to jail after planting meth or marijuana in their vehicles while feigning a “search..."

...Bowling, who has since been cleared, is just one of 11 known victims named in the affidavit, although the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Wednesday that there may be more victims who have not yet been identified, and the case remains under investigation. At least 119 cases involving Wester have been dropped, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. In addition to the dropped charges, Circuit Judge Christopher Patterson ordered at least eight inmates released from correctional facilities last fall, as 263 cases remained under review...

Over 250 cases are under review. Great. To use a cliche, where there is smoke, there is fire. I've said more than once, cops are citizens, they have the right to their day in court, and the state has the bourdon to prove its accusations.

That being said, even if this charges are never proved, and this officer is not convicted, this brings every effort of that department (hell, cops in general) into question. I know the anti-police movement (e.g. BLM, the ACLU, the Democratic Party) will jump on this as fast as it can. The good thing is the process did work, it stopped a (presumed) dirty cop. Now let's see how this plays out.

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