A video of a traffic stop conducted last Wednesday by the Village of Caledonia Police Department in Caledonia, Wisconsin, went viral over the weekend due to allegations from users on social media that the officer planted a drug baggie on the backseat, however, further footage was left out of the clip.
Video filmed and posted to Facebook by a user who calls himself “La Savoo” shows the police officer approaching the vehicle before throwing the baggie onto the seat. “I got you on camera. You just threw that in here,” the individual says to the officer who replies, “I got you on camera so we’re all good.”
The video was later posted to Twitter where it has amassed over 6 million views and 64K retweets, amplified by public figures such as former NBA player Rex Chapman and television host W. Kamau Bell. News outlets such as TMZ and the NY Daily News also quickly picked up on the story.
Tell me again how you reform this?? https://t.co/3NayJrftV8
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) July 24, 2021
I said it on United Shades of America and I’ll say it again.
— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) July 25, 2021
The narrative, however, quickly fell apart when the police officer’s bodycam footage was released, showing the rest of the exchange that was left out of the viral video.
The video shows the other officer on scene handing the plastic bag to his partner, which was found in the pocket of one of the car’s other passengers. This is the baggie that was then discarded on the backseat of the car.
“It was in his pocket and I don’t want to hold onto it. It’s on their bodycam that they took it off of him,” the officer says to the man filming, which was not included in the cell phone video that originally went viral.
I see everyone’s calling for the Caledonia Police officer to be jailed because they watched a brief, out-of-context clip of a cop appearing to plant a bag of drugs in someone’s car. Now watch the full bodycam footage. https://t.co/tC88zpElNK pic.twitter.com/7CkaJmMeyJ
— Ian Miles Cheong @ stillgray.substack.com (@stillgray) July 25, 2021
In the end, a citation was issued to the driver of the car for speeding and no arrests were made. (RELATED: Democrat-Run Cities Burned Last Summer. Now It’s A Summer Of Violence)
Caledonia police later issued a lengthy statement on Facebook responding to the backlash on social media in which Chief of Police Christopher Botsch debunked the misinformation while criticizing the officer for putting the baggie on the backseat.
“On 07-21-21 at about 3:22pm, officers conducted a traffic stop for a vehicle traveling 63 mph in a 45 mph zone,” the post explained. “The vehicle was occupied by a driver along with front and rear passengers. The driver was identified by her driver’s license. The front passenger lawfully declined to identify himself. The rear passengers were not wearing their seat-belts and were asked to identify themselves.”
“The empty corner tear was turned over by the searching officer to another officer who was on scene. That officer turned it over to the officer who is seen on video. 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,” the statement continued.
“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.”
“No arrests were made as a result of this incident. The only arrest/citation arising from this incident was a speeding citation issued to the driver,” the statement concluded.