More federal lawsuits filed against deputy accused of planting drugs

Tallahassee By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News
May 3, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A federal lawsuit filed this week accuses a former Jackson County deputy of planting drugs and violating motorists' constitutional rights.

Nine people claim Jackson County Deputy Zachary Wester illegally planted drugs - including meth, marijuana and prescription pills - during traffic stops.

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

Two federal lawsuits were filed against Wester in December 2018 and this one was filed Thursday in Tallahassee's District Court.

The latest federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of nine people who claim they were illegally stopped and arrested by Wester between 2016 and 2018.

They claim Wester stopped them for things like non-working headlights or seat belt violations and then planted drugs in their cars, and in some cases, even in their purses.

The suit calls Wester's conduct "outrageous" and claims he trampled "on the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens."

It accuses Wester of false arrest, malicious prosecution and violating the motorists' constitutional rights to due process.

Jackson County Sheriff Louis Roberts and deputies Trevor Lee and John Allen are also named in the federal lawsuit.

Wester was fired from his job, but has not been charged with a crime.

FDLE Spokeswoman Jessica Cary says its investigation is still open and active, but could not provide an update or a timeline for its completion.

The State Attorney's Office in Pensacola is still reviewing evidence in the case. Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille says they continue to review videotapes, documents and other evidence, but have not yet made any decisions.

We also reached out to Tallahassee-based State Attorney Jack Campbell, who was looking into Wester's conduct during his previous stint as a deputy in Liberty County.

"We have found some cases he was involved in and we are in the process of resolving them," Campbell said. He would not elaborate on how many cases they reviewed or if any of them revealed any misconduct.

We are also attempting to reach Wester's attorney for comment.