We all would like to think that law enforcement officials have no prejudices or predisposed ideas about those they encounter in their line of work, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. A sheriff in South Carolina resigned in January 2020 after a controversial arrest led to an internal investigation about his off-duty and on-duty behavior.
Bird Poop or Cocaine?
On July 31, 2019, a quarterback for Georgia Southern University was pulled over for speeding in Saluda County, South Carolina. The officers who pulled Shai Werts over then decided to test a substance collected from the hood of his car. In the dash camera video and audio, Werts can be heard saying, “I swear to God, that's bird doo-doo.”
One of the arresting officers, Charles Browder, responded, “I swear to God, it's not. I just tested it and it turned pink.” While Werts kept insisting it was just bird poop, Browder is heard saying, "Unless the bird inhaled cocaine." Werts was then arrested for possession of cocaine. Fortunately, the charges were dropped quickly. Laboratory results proved that the substance really was bird poop.
Initially, a Saluda internal investigation found that Officer Browder had done nothing wrong during Werts' arrest.
Questionable Behavior by an Officer
But as the investigation went on, more was learned about Charles Browder. He had resigned from another sheriff's position in Lexington County, South Carolina, in 2017 over allegations that he had sent provocative messages to an underage girl. As part of this investigation, Browder turned over his cell phone and officials found he regularly sent sexually explicit text messages and photos to an adult woman, as well, and that he had engaged in sex with her several times both while he was on- and off-duty.
These allegations led the solicitor for the state's 11th judicial circuit, Rick Hubbard, to send a letter to the Saluda's sheriff stating he would not prosecute any cases Browder had been involved in. Hubbard wrote, “I further consider this evidence as exculpatory, impeachable and as adversely affecting his credibility to testify under oath. As such, my office cannot and will not prosecute any case that may require Deputy Browder's testimony in the prosecution of criminal charges.”
Allegations Do Not Mean Convictions
Being charged with possessing cocaine is very serious. Werts was temporarily suspended by his team and almost missed playing in their opening game because of this incident. But it is clear now that Browder had jumped to conclusions and this mistake, as well as other personal behavior, has led to his resignation.
If you have been falsely accused of a drug crime, you do not have to face it alone. Attorney Steve Karimi is a former prosecutor who understands and knows how to fight the biased system. Contact the office of Steve Karimi today.