Caledonia, WI – The Caledonia police chief released bodycam videos on Saturday night of a recent traffic stop after one of the vehicle’s occupants publicly accused officers of planting evidence in the car (video below).
The incident occurred at about 3:22 p.m. on July 21 after police officers stopped a car for going 63 mph in a 45 mph zone, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Caledonia Police Chief Christopher Botsch released some bodycam video from the stop but said officers were still reviewing the six hours of footage gleaned from the four bodycams that were on the scene.
Officers got the driver and the two backseat passengers, who were not wearing seatbelts, out of the car and searched them, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
The front seat passenger lawfully refused to identify himself and remained in the car filming the incident with his cell phone.
During the search of the vehicle’s occupants, an officer found a “corner tear” in one of the passenger’s pockets, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Police said a “corner cut” or “corner tear” is the corner of a plastic baggie and said they are “a common method for holding illegal drugs.”
But in this case, there was nothing left in the baggie so one of the officers dropped it back on the backseat of the car, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Bodycam video showed the front-seat passenger was filming and turned around to ask the officer what he was doing.
“Hey bro, what’s that?” the passenger asked in the video.
“What’s what?” the officer asked.
“I got you on camera bro,” the passenger informed the officer.
“I got you on camera, we’re all good,” the officer replied.
There is a piece of a plastic baggie and a lighter on the seat of the car, the video showed.
“Hey… you just threw that in here,” the passenger said to the officer.
“Yeah, cause it was in his pocket and I don’t want to hold onto it,” the officer explained in the video. “It’s on their body cam that they just took it off of him, so…”
“You just threw that in here, bro, I got you on camera,” the passenger informed the officer as if he had caught him doing something wrong.
“I’m telling you where it came from, so…” the officer replied in the video. “It’s an empty baggie at the moment, too.”
The police chief took to social media on July 24 and defended the integrity of his officers and the police department.
“Since there were NO DRUGS in the corner tear, the officers discarded the empty packaging material in the vehicle. This is what was observed in the video,” Chief Botsch posted to Facebook.
“While we would discourage officers from discarding items into a citizen’s vehicle, the video is clear that the officer is NOT planting evidence or doing anything illegal. Additionally, the empty corner tear is not itself illegal,” the police chief explained.
The driver received a citation for speeding before everything was finished but nobody was arrested, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
The passenger who filmed the exchange with the officer about the corner tear posted his cell phone video to social media and claimed the officers had planted evidence in the car.
The claims and the video quickly went viral.
Watch the incident unfold in the bodycam video below: