The ex-deputy would routinely pull people over randomly, plant meth or marijuana in their cars, and falsely charge them.
In an absolutely bizarre – and tragic for one particular victim – story, a Florida deputy got arrested this Wednesday, after being fired back in September, for a multitude of charges; including planting meth in random drivers’ cars. Ex-deputy, Zachary Wester, has been charged with 52 counts of racketeering, false imprisonment, official misconduct, fabricating evidence and possession of controlled substances, among other charges. A representative from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Chris Williams, said in a statement “there is no question that Wester’s crimes were deliberate and that his actions put innocent people in jail,” Wester would randomly target innocent drivers, and proceed to arrest them after he faked a “search” to plant marijuana or meth. During a news conference, investigators said that there didn’t seem to be any pattern of victims, some had young children in the back, others were young men or women, and some even cried as they insisted they had never even touched drugs in their lives.
The Tallahassee Democrat reported that since the arrest, at least 119 cases involving the disgraced ex-deputy have been dropped. In addition to this, Circuit Judge Christopher Patterson ordered the release of at least 8 inmates from correctional facilities last fall, with 263 cases still under review. For one particular victim, Benjamin Bowling – who has thankfully since been cleared – Wester’s actions have had a lasting detrimental effect on his life. He fell victim to Wester’s fabricated drug charges back in 2017, on his way with a friend to buy diapers for the daughter he had just been awarded custody for. Bowling had been clean ever since his release from prison on a DUI conviction a year prior, and had been devoting his time to getting his life straight and taking care of daughter – routinely passing drug tests. However, all of a sudden, he found himself being pulled over for a drug search after Wester claimed he could smell marijuana; confident he would come out clean, Bowling told him to go ahead and search the car, only to suddenly find himself being accused of possession of a small amount of marijuana, leading to his conviction on counts of felony meth possession. Now, two years later, after losing custody of his daughter, it all made sense. When asked by reporters why he thinks Wester would do such atrocious acts, State Attorney William “Bill” Eddins from Florida’s 1st Judicial Circuit replied that investigators themselves were still trying to figure it out, saying “you’re never certain of what lies in the heart of man.”