A former sheriff’s deputy was arrested on Wednesday and faces charges of planting drugs on unsuspecting motorists during traffic stops. Footage from the deputy’s own body cam was the strongest piece of evidence in the case. After the video was discovered, Deputy Zachery Wester was suspended and subsequently fired for his actions.
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Body cam footage from February 2018 – where Wester pulled over Teresa Odom as she was driving – is considered the strongest piece of evidence in the case, according to a report by WFLA. Wester was a Jackson County sheriff’s deputy at the time of the incident.
Wester told Odom that her brakes lights weren’t working during the traffic stop. Then, he asked Odom to consent to a search of her vehicle.
The body cam footage shows Wester with a white substance held in his hand as he got ready to perform the search. That white substance was placed into Odom’s bag, leading him to arrest her despite her claims that the drugs weren’t hers.
Prosecutors discovered the video months after the incident, prompting Wester’s suspension and then firing.
Soon after, 119 Jackson County cases were dismissed along with 12 cases in Liberty County, where Wester had previously been employed.
Wester was arrested at a Walmart on Wednesday morning. Drug paraphernalia was found during his arrest.
If Wester is found guilty on all of the counts, he faces over 100 years of prison time.
“It’s an important case, not only for the victims, who spent time innocently, innocent victims who spent time in jail because of the actions of Mister Wester, but also for the law enforcement community,” said Gretl Plessinger, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) spokesperson.
The FDLE said that Wester’s case is currently still open and is encouraging any additional potential victims to step forward.