[DTN] Nov 29 – Deputy Charles Browder III – the police officer responsible for the July 31 arrest of star Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts – will not face any disciplinary action for falsely charging the 20-year old college student with misdemeanor cocaine possession. An administrative review of the arrest found that Browder had not violated department policy when he charged that a large smear of white goop caked on the hood of Mr. Werts’ car was actually cocaine even though the driver insisted – correctly – that the substance was bird poop. A cheap $2. roadside field test, famous for providing false results, tested positive for cocaine, but multiple police cameras subsequently showed the deputy making a string of questionable decisions that led to the young black man’s arrest. Initially pulled over for speeding, a well-mannered Werts was in handcuffs one minute and thirty-seven seconds after he start speaking to Deputy Browder. Werts spoke less than eighty words before he was placed under arrest.
News of the athlete’s arrest made national sports media headlines and in August, in an effort to get ahead of the story, the Saluda County Sheriff released three separate videos of the 30-minute incident. The footage plainly showed that Browder got every aspect of the traffic stop wrong: he likely pulled over the wrong car, misread the field test, repeatedly interrupted the prisoner and tried to bully him into agreeing with a false chain of events. When Saluda County Chief Deputy Toby Horne announced an internal investigation into the matter he said the department has “noticed several things in the video that we want to take corrective actions on.”
Despite those concerns, the investigation narrowly determined that Browder’s actions did not violate any department policies. Chief Deputy Horne told local reporters that the review was limited to the arrest itself and did not extend to Browder’s personnel record, which was problematical. Browder had been forced to resign from his last job at the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department to avoid being fired for “conduct unbecoming an officer.” When applying to Saluda County for a job Browder explained, “[I’ve] made some mistakes that I fully regret and have learned from.” He admitted he was “terminated” from Lexington County and said he took “full responsibility” for his actions. He was working on a chicken farm when Saluda hired him in 2018. Earlier this year he received an oral warning from his Saluda superiors for insubordination. Despite all this, he continues to remain on active duty.
The Saluda County Sheriff’s office says it will continue to use the cheap $2. field tests that falsely impeached Shai Werts, but the deputies have now been told to not press charges based on a single positive result. “We’ll wait for lab results to come back,” said Chief Deputy Horne; which is the precise instruction that comes with every flawed field test. The disclaimer is printed on every box: “All Test Results Must Be Confirmed By An Approved Analytical Laboratory!” That’s a standard operating procedure that somehow got lost on the side of the road. [Read the Full Story Here]