CALEDONIA – Two body-cam videos released by the Caledonia Police Department showed that the police officer did not plant evidence in the back seat of a car during a traffic stop.
The department also released details regarding the traffic stop, which resulted in no one being arrested. The driver was given a traffic citation for speeding. Police stopped the vehicle for speeding 63 mph in a 45 mph zone at 3:22 p.m. July 21, according to a statement released by the Caledonia Police Department on Facebook.
Inside the car were three people — the driver and two passengers. A viral video taken by the front passenger appeared to show the police officer throwing a plastic sandwich baggie into the car. But the baggie was empty and came from the pocket of the other passenger.
“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,” wrote Caledonia Police Chief Christopher Botsch.
CALEDONIA – Caledonia Police Chief Christopher Botsch said Saturday the department launched an internal investigation into whether a Caledonia Police officer planted evidence before searching a car during a traffic stop.
The Racine County Eye reached out to department officials for comment about the police officer’s actions after the post was sent to the RCE editor. The department posted a response on Facebook.
The 16-second video — shot on a cell phone by a passenger in a car involved in a traffic stop — shows the officer appearing to throw a clear plastic baggie into the backseat of the car.
“Earlier today, the Caledonia Police Department was made aware of a cell phone video that is circulating social media platforms depicting the actions of a Caledonia police officer. We were able to locate the call for service associated with the cell phone video. The Caledonia Police Department is conducting a comprehensive internal review of the incident.”
The video does not show what happened before the police officer walked up to the car or what happened after the video ended. It also does not show whether the officers made an arrest. Police also have not released any of the officers’ body camera footage.
What we know, what we don’t know about the video
A person by the name of “GlockBoy Savoo” shared the video on Facebook. It is unclear whether he shared the video or took it himself. Racine County Eye reached out to him, but he has not responded to our request for comment.
The video is not embeddable at this time but can be found here.
The video showed the unidentified officer throw what appears to be a clear plastic baggie into the backseat of the car. Once the officer threw the item into the backseat, the person confronted the officer.
“Hey, what did you just throw in here?” he said.
“What?” the officer said.
“I got you on camera, bro,” the person said.
“I got you on camera too. We’re all good,” the officer responded.
The person taking the video then pointed the camera at the backseat of the car, which shows a lighter and a knotted clear plastic baggie on the seat. Drugs are often found in knotted clear plastic sandwich bags and are often cited in criminal complaints as a cause to search a vehicle.
“Hey buddy, you just threw that in here,” the person said.
“Yeah,” a person said. But it’s unclear whether or not that was the officer or the person shooting the video.
The officer then put on latex gloves, which they use during evidence-gathering procedures. Then the video cuts out. It is unclear whether the officer searched the car.
What the law says about probable cause
Wisconsin state statutes allow law enforcement officers to search a car without a warrant if they have probable cause. That means the officer has to have evidence that they will locate more evidence that a crime has been committed within a vehicle. Botsch did not confirm or deny that evidence was planted in the car before the search, but he did issue the following statement:
“All officers assigned to patrol duties are equipped with body-worn cameras, and preliminary information indicates the officers on the scene of this incident all had their body-worn cameras activated. We will also need to gather information from all officers who were present. The complete review will take some time, but I have reviewed portions of the body-worn camera video.”
The video shows that a person stood behind the officer during the interaction between the officer and the passenger. However, another law enforcement officer had his back turned during the incident.
Botsch reminded the public that the cell phone video only showed a “small portion of the entire encounter” and the other videos may “provide more context.”
Botsch said the videos would be released in the coming days and asked for the public’s patience while they conducted the review.
“Please know that we are taking this matter very seriously,” Botsch said.