Body cam footage shows deputy planting drugs during traffic stops

By: Lanetra Bennett I Eyewitness News
September 27, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says it analyzed more than 1,300 minutes of video in the investigation of a former Jackson County deputy.

Zachary Wester was arrested back in July for planting drugs on victims.

WCTV has obtained the body camera footage that led to the charges.

"Good deal!" You can hear Wester say in one of the videos.
"Oh my god, are you kidding me? That is not mine." a woman replied.

Traffic stop after traffic stop, you can hear people say similar things.

"If I'd known that was in there, you think I'd tell you to go ahead and search, man? Come on, man, really?" a man said in one of the videos.

"Wasn't nothing in there man." Another man said.

Authorities say Wester planted drugs during minor traffic stops between 2016 and 2018.

In one of the body cam videos, Wester claimed to have found crystal meth in a squad car that a woman was in. You can hear the woman crying as she denied the crystal meth was hers.

One woman says she was pulled over because of her brakes.

She said, "No, sir. What is it?"

"It did return presumptive positive for methamphetamine," Wester said in the body cam video.

In the videos, you can see Wester tell the drivers he found the drugs in their vehicles. Then, he goes to his patrol car to do a field test.

At times, he even sounds exasperated after saying what he found.

In most cases, Wester appeared calm, and sounded friendly as he spoke to those he pulled over. He even gave advice to his arrestees.

"You got to be careful of who you let around your personal belongings," he said. "Unfortunately, a lot of people that you think you can trust, you can't."

Footage from Wester's own body camera resulted in him being fired in September 2018. Prosecutors have since dropped charges in more than 100 cases.

Wester is now due back in court on November 4 for a pretrial hearing. The trial is scheduled for December 16.

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