Earlier this month, Jackson County Deputy Zachary Webster was fired after an investigation revealed that he planted drugs on multiple suspects. Now, prosecutors are dropping a least two dozen different cases that he was involved with after his own body camera showed him framing innocent people.
Last month, The Florida Department of Law Enforcement opened up an investigation on Wester after body camera footage confirmed allegations that he planted drugs on innocent people. However, the investigation into allegations of official misconduct is still open, and no charges have been filed against Wester.
State Attorney Glenn Hess of the 14th Judicial Circuit said that he believes Wester is guilty after seeing the evidence.
“The investigation is not complete. However, I saw a video, and I saw still photographs captured from that video that caused me to lose confidence in the cases that the deputy has made. It is an unfortunate situation. However, as the state attorney, I have a responsibility to make it right,” Hess told the Tallahassee Democrat.
In a letter sent out to Webster’s victims, Hess said, “Please be advised that our office has information that an investigation into the professional conduct of Deputy Zachary Wester is underway. No conclusions have been reached, nonetheless, you should be aware of its existence.”
Hess also downplayed the seriousness of the situation by suggesting that since it was just a drug crime most of these people were looking at probation.
“Basically, we’re dealing with possession of controlled substances. So I would expect that the people affected would at worst be on probation. Nevertheless, we are looking at all of the cases and their outcomes,” Hess said.
However, Webster planted hard drugs like meth on many of these people which can carry steep sentences. Also, this caused problems for many people who were already on probation.
Monica Willis has been sitting in jail since March 28 because Webster planted drugs on her during a traffic stop. Willis was reportedly two weeks pregnant at the time, and it is possible she may have had to give birth in prison.
Her attorney Robin Myers said that Webster was doing this as a way to turn people into confidential informants.
“The M.O. seems to be that there’s a traffic stop in which either a request to search the car is made or the deputy determines probable cause to search the car. And then upon searching the car, narcotics are located. At which point the deputy gives the defendant the choice to either work as a confidential informant or go to jail,” Myers said.
If you think police officers planting evidence is some anomaly, think again.
After their department gained national shame last year over a video showing an officer planting drugs to frame an innocent man while his fellow cops watched, the Baltimore Police Department showed the world the dark reality that is framing people to make arrests. Only days after the first video was released, the Baltimore Public Defender’s office released a second video that allegedly “appears to depict multiple officers working together to manufacture evidence.”
It was then announced that nearly three dozen people will have their charges dropped after the video of Officer Richard Pinheiro showed him planting drugs while Officers Hovhannes Simonyan and Jamal Brunson stood by and did nothing. Naturally, the BPD claimed nothing unscrupulous was going in in the aforementioned videos.
It is not just Baltimore cops either—as TFTP previously reported, in one of the most shocking cases of badge abuse ever exposed, the Alabama Justice Project revealed that a ring of corrupt cops in the Dothan Police Department planted drugs and guns on hundreds of young black men for over a decade, in most cases resulting in their imprisonment. Their actions were aided by supervisors and covered up by the district attorney.