Where are the cop killers when you need one?

45WinMag

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I don't see it. Especially not in the small-time possession cases he made by planting little bundles of dope on select citizens. That's not the kind of bust that gives an agency a forfeiture to begin with. Not sure about Virginia, but in Florida the courts don't generally start looking at forfeiture actions until something over $10,000 bucks worth of assets are involved because that's about what it takes for the state to break even on the deal.
There is a "sweet spot" for asset forfeiture where the state maximizes its profit while taking less than it will cost the victim to fight the seizure. All asset forfeiture is theft, and all asset forfeiture needs to be abolished.

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/10/us/police-use-department-wish-list-when-deciding-which-assets-to-seize.html
 

Roberteaux

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So disgraceful. They should hold him to a higher standard....... no plea deals. Serve separately on each victim. Hopefully a life sentence.

Well, he's been charged with one count of racketeering... and after that a slew of third-degree felonies... and then an enormous number of misdemeanor counts.

The big one is the racketeering charge-- it's good for up to 30 years, though a first-time offender such as this guy isn't gonna get 30 on it without a bunch of aggravating factors that aren't present in his particular case.

The 3rd degree felonies are good for 5 years each-- but there's no way he's going to be given consecutive sentences on those. The appellate courts wouldn't uphold such an action by the lower courts.They will want the lower courts to abide by the sentencing matrix...

The State Attorney in the case, William Eddins, has said that if Wester is convicted on all charges, the current sentencing matrix would probably end up handing him something like 13.5 years-- though a judge could probably get away with piling a little extra in there.

Deputy Framed Innocents

He sure ain't gonna do life, though.

He's still ruined for life anyway. He's being sued in 11 federal court cases that he's not likely to prevail in, he already lost his house to Hurricane Michael... and state prison is right around the bend if he's convicted.

No word on whether federal prosecutors will go after him for the civil rights violations he seems to have committed... but they sure as hell could, and it's another charge that can get you up to 30 (though it's not likely in this case since nobody died).

Interestingly: the county he was living in when arrested features Apalachee Correctional Institution, which is very handy in his case as it's also the slammer that Florida uses to house convicted former politicos, lawyers, judges, cops, and other establishment types who'd last about as long as a snowflake in hell in general population in any other slammer.

Despite the calls for death and blah-blah by so many, Florida continues to observe the 8th Amendment of the US Constitution, and so we actually do our best to keep our prison guests alive for the entirety of their stay.

Though it's disappointing to the general public it keeps the civil lawsuits down-- and also keeps the feds off our asses.

--R :thumb:
 

oicu812

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Roberteaux makes good points, and I will add a bit. It could be as simple as ego, notoriety, the claim he is a super cop. The Barney Fife syndrome. Overzealous, gonna clean up the world, so manufacture crime where there isn't any. Another component is the boredom in a small rural area.

On the note of bad cops, which I believe are the miniscule minority. A new cat showed up at the gym several months ago. Guy is friggin huge, 6'-5" 300 lbs easy and muscle. I heard from a couple other sheriffs that work out there that the guy had recently gotten out of prison after serving a 15 year sentence. The story was he went to a crack house and shook down the occupants for $$, and it was going to be a recurring thing. In other words, payola to leave them alone. Unfortunately for him, there was an undercover deputy in the drug house while the other sheriff was strong-arming the dealers.


End result, he got a job in maintenance when he got out with of all places, the same county where he was a deputy. Go figure.
 

45WinMag

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13.5 years is dissapointing. He has done enough damage to hundreds of lives to merit a much stronger penalty. If that's all he gets, I'm afraid it pushes me into the "put him in general population" camp.
 

scott1970

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I tend to agree with Rob’s assessment based on the low population of the area he worked.

My initial thoughts are simply this is a criminal wearing a badge, which I still stand by. He should absolutely be hammered to the fullest extent. The havoc he caused is immeasurable in my opinion and can never be properly undone or corrected.

But trying to understand his actions, for me, was more along the lines of street justice in the absence of real judicial punishment, i.e. “I keep arresting these same criminals yet they keep getting a pass due to a weak judge, so I’ll hold court on the side of the road.” This explanation seems to go out the window when confronted with an extremely small population especially compared to the number of cases that have been tossed.

I’m not trying to be melodramatic when I say the badge sometimes has extreme and bizarre effects on people. Some folks, those wearing it and those not, get kinda crazy in the head, but that’s a discussion for psychologists. A consistency of rogue cops and badge bunnies point to this odd phenomenon which is nothing more than the allure of power, maybe.
 

Roberteaux

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I’m not trying to be melodramatic when I say the badge sometimes has extreme and bizarre effects on people. Some folks, those wearing it and those not, get kinda crazy in the head, but that’s a discussion for psychologists. A consistency of rogue cops and badge bunnies point to this odd phenomenon which is nothing more than the allure of power, maybe.
Man, you said a mouthful right there... :laugh2:

I could tell a whole bunch of stories. I was an FTO for three years, and holy shit-- some of the people they wanted me to train to be deputies were way out there.

You haven't really been an FTO until you've arrested your own trainee, is all I'm gonna say here... :facepalm:

--R :laugh2:
 

scott1970

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I was an FTO for years, and the crazy transcends location or logic.

If you want to assure a crazy cops career all you have to do is gig a rookie cop for being unstable, etc. He’ll be the next detective or patrol supervisor in quick order.
 

Bluesky

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Give him the Max. Make him participate in a full psychological exam. Information obtained can be used to help agencies better vet future officers that might have such horrible issues.
 

Roberteaux

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I was an FTO for years, and the crazy transcends location or logic.

If you want to assure a crazy cops career all you have to do is gig a rookie cop for being unstable, etc. He’ll be the next detective or patrol supervisor in quick order.
Ain't it the truth! :rofl:

I had this one guy to train... he was a former warrant officer in the US Army-- a helicopter pilot.

I thought he was kind of an asshole. Hard to teach the guy because he didn't like to listen and was a clumsy, pain in the ass of a know-it-all with a really crappy attitude towards other officers.

One day I showed up at work and went into the squad room to collect my trainee and hit the road, but the guy was nowhere to be found. So I started looking around for the guy, couldn't find him, and finally went to the sergeant to ask if the guy called in sick or something.

The sergeant looked a little surprised and said, "Oh, haven't you heard?", and then informed me that my trainee had been arrested by the DEA the evening before. Turned out that before we hired him, he'd been flying dope in for the Ochoa brothers! :eek2:

Well... that certainly explained the cruddy attitude... :laugh2:

So a federal judge handed him 30 years, and about 25 years later I spotted the guy walking through Daytona Beach International... he'd just been released. I marveled that so many years had gone by, with him in the slam the whole time. You know, we were both young when he went in... and there I was... just turned fifty and a few years short of a 30-year retirement...

Waste of a life, right there-- not that I actually felt sorry for him.

Had another guy who was arrested by the city cops after being seen chasing his girlfriend down the street with a loaded shotgun. And the trainee I had to arrest had gone into a local drugstore to angrily confront his ex-wife. He smacked her in the face, and the pharmacist rebuked him... and so he pulled his service weapon on the pharmacist.

I was in the men's room when all that happened. Came out to spot my trainee just stuffing his gun back into his holster, with the shocked druggist standing there looking like he'd been exsanguinated. The ex-wife was standing nearby, sobbing. She had a fresh shiner going, too.

Crazy, crazy shit. I wondered why he wanted to stop at that drug store, but failed to ask specifically why. I imagined he was gonna pick up a prescription or something... no big deal because we were out of service/subject to call, and about to go to lunch.

Damn, man. :facepalm:

The only day I was happier than the day I was rotated out of training was the day I left law enforcement altogether by transferring to a higher-paying civilian position within the county.

--R
 
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electric head

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I am surprised no flags were raised at the amount of drug busts this guy had and the fact that most everyone denied ever having drugs.
You would have thought any good lawyer would have gone back through his arrest record, which I am sure in Florida is public knowledge.It would not take but a few minutes to see that something was wrong with the police officers arrest record..
 

Brians Evil Twin

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Ain't it the truth! :rofl:

I had this one guy to train... he was a former warrant officer in the US Army-- a helicopter pilot.

I thought he was kind of an asshole. Hard to teach the guy because he didn't like to listen and was a clumsy, pain in the ass of a know-it-all with a really crappy attitude towards other officers.

One day I showed up at work and went into the squad room to collect my trainee and hit the road, but the guy was nowhere to be found. So I started looking around for the guy, couldn't find him, and finally went to the sergeant to ask if the guy called in sick or something.

The sergeant looked a little surprised and said, "Oh, haven't you heard?", and then informed me that my trainee had been arrested by the DEA the evening before. Turned out that before we hired him, he'd been flying dope in for the Ochoa brothers! :eek2:

Well... that certainly explained the cruddy attitude... :laugh2:

So a federal judge handed him 30 years, and about 25 years later I spotted the guy walking through Daytona Beach International... he'd just been released. I marveled that so many years had gone by, with him in the slam the whole time. You know, we were both young when he went in... and there I was... just turned fifty and a few years short of a 30-year retirement...

Waste of a life, right there-- not that I actually felt sorry for him.

Had another guy who was arrested by the city cops after being seen chasing his girlfriend down the street with a loaded shotgun. And the trainee I had to arrest had gone into a local drugstore to angrily confront his ex-wife. He smacked her in the face, and the pharmacist had rebuked him... and so he pulled his service weapon on the pharmacist.

I was in the men's room when all that happened. Came out to spot my trainee just stuffing his gun back into his holster, with the shocked druggist standing there looking like he'd been exsanguinated. The ex-wife was standing nearby, sobbing. She had a fresh shiner going, too.

Crazy, crazy shit. I wondered why he wanted to stop at that drug store, but failed to ask specifically why. I imagined he was gonna pick up a prescription or something... no big deal because we were out of service/subject to call, and about to go to lunch.

Damn, man. :facepalm:

The only day I was happier than the day I was rotated out of training was the day I left law enforcement altogether by transferring to a higher-paying civilian position within the county.

--R
Thanks R, i had to look up "exsanguinated".

:shock:
 

Malikon

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I am surprised no flags were raised at the amount of drug busts this guy had and the fact that most everyone denied ever having drugs.
You would have thought any good lawyer would have gone back through his arrest record, which I am sure in Florida is public knowledge.It would not take but a few minutes to see that something was wrong with the police officers arrest record..

to be fair I bet 99.9% of people arrested for drugs say they're innocent, they're being framed, the drugs don't belong to them, etc.
 

TheX

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13.5 years is dissapointing. He has done enough damage to hundreds of lives to merit a much stronger penalty. If that's all he gets, I'm afraid it pushes me into the "put him in general population" camp.
VERY disappointing.
 

Roberteaux

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I am surprised no flags were raised at the amount of drug busts this guy had and the fact that most everyone denied ever having drugs.
You would have thought any good lawyer would have gone back through his arrest record, which I am sure in Florida is public knowledge.It would not take but a few minutes to see that something was wrong with the police officers arrest record..



392434

I Think He Sees It Coming:
Zachary Wester's In a Heap of Trouble Now


It's interesting to note that the first persons to really wonder about this guy were the public defenders assigned to indigent defendants arrested by this guy...

But, at first they kind of kept their mouths shut... kind of.

Still: with the type of rapport that develops between professionals and their peers, eventually they started talking to a junior prosecutor for the 14th Judicial Circuit. This was a woman named Christina Pumphrey, who had gone to work for the state attorney's office after several years of working as an attorney elsewhere in the state government.

Despite the fact that she was a n00b--- or maybe because she was a n00b-- the public defenders she spoke to regularly began to warn her about this Deputy Wester, telling her, "You have to watch him. Our clients are complaining about him."

Ordinarily, we'd expect a public defender's clients to complain about the cops who arrested them... and it's not as if the average public defender has some great love for his average client-- all of whom typically claim to be not guilty, at least at first...

...but you know how it is: once in a while, the complaints come in so thick and heavy that a person is justified in beginning to wonder.

So Ms. Pumphrey began to wonder about the guy, and begain to pay really close attention to what she was doing with any case he played a role in. Any time he cropped up in a traffic stop that ended as a dope possession case, she made a habit of reviewing his body cam videos. Almost immediately, she noticed that his written accounts of an incident and what she observed in the video were not one in the same.


392419

C. Pumphrey: She Smelled a Rat

Once things piled up to a certain degree, the lady took her concerns to her superiors in the state attorney's office. She also sent a letter to the 14th Circuit's public defender's office to address some of her concerns after she reviewed a video and noticed that the cop had the dope in hand before he actually searched the truck he'd pulled over in a certain case.

And that level of integrity is praiseworthy, to those who care at all for true justice.

But before she began reviewing Deputy Wester, nobody at all was having a look at his body cam footage. It simply wasn't a routine procedure except for when there was some sort of physical altercation involving a cop and somebody else.

It's highly unusual for a prosecutor to send a letter to the public defender's office to warn about a deputy sheriff and possible malfeasance. And so one thing led to another, and it came to where one of the 14th Circuit's judges decided that he'd never again accept a guilty or nolo plea at arraignment without personally having a look at the video evidence. A lot of people entered a nolo plea in exchange for a reduced sentence-- even in cases where the defendant was framed-- as the defendant would be unable to contest the charges without going broke doing it.



392421

Judge Wade Mercer Smelled a Rat Too

And so Judge Mercer wrote to advise the public defender and state attorney alike that he'd personally be eyeballing these videos from now on. He told both parties that he was going to try and ensure that quick pleas at arraignment didn't result in procedural errors. And though he didn't say so in the letter he sent, he undoubtedly realized that something rotten was going on...

***************
Unfortunately for Ms. Pumphrey, when her letter reached her boss, Glenn Hess-- who was the elected state attorney of the 14th Circuit-- the chief prosecutor blew his stack. He yanked Pumphrey in, put her on the carpet, and then rebuked her hotly for having taken such interest in the activities of Deputy Wester... and never mind the video where the deputy had the dope in hand before he ever even searched the truck.

She was also chewed out for "messing up investigations by dismissing cases".


392425

State Attorney Hess:
He Don't Need No Stinking Videos

Hess also complained that other prosecutors were "sounding alarm bells" about the lack of manpower sufficient to review what he called "an avalanche" of body cam videos coming in from law enforcement agencies.

Last but not least, Hess sent a sarcastic text to a colleague, saying that "Ms. Pumphrey was a rookie prosecutor who was in over her head and failed to follow the directions of her highly experienced supervisors."

For extra stupidity, in that same text Hess also took a shot at Judge Mercer, saying that, "As for the judge, ya just gotta love him." :facepalm:

One wonders what Judge Mercer was thinking when that remark came to light... ;)


***************​

Hess probably should have commended Christina Pumphrey for taking the extra time to review all evidence in the cases brought forth by Deputy Wester, but the lady was setting an unwanted precedent by doing so.

Hess might have been wisest not to have scolded her so soundly for having taken it upon herself to have a hard look at the evidence, because despite his anger with her she continued eyeballing everything Wester sent her way.

And she kept finding discrepancies between the official report and what was on the videos she reviewed... and after that, started finding cases where Wester's body cam was shut off during critical moments in several incidents where Wester effected an arrest. She undoubtedly realized that now he was just trying to tighten his game up by occluding things to where it was just his word against that of somebody he arrested.

However, to their credit, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement both seem to have believed the junior prosecutor when it came to her suspicions. And unlike the overwrought local prosecutor's office, FDLE did not hesitate to assign over fifty of its own investigators to review the evidence in these questionable cases. They've been at it for months now, and that's why so many cases have been dismissed, along with several people being released from the jails and prisons they were unjustly incarcerated within.

Thus, FDLE finally came across the "smoking gun" video, where Wester messed up and actually recorded himself planting methamphetamine... and the rest is history.

And so is Wester, for that matter... :laugh2:

His behavior was nothing short of sinister. He'd been targeting "poor white people with criminal records" because these ones were the least likely to mount a successful defense against his bogus charges, or to otherwise unmask him as the malfeasant SOB he sure as hell is.

Even poor Glenn Hess had to make an announcement, in which he said that he'd "lost confidence" in that rising wunderkind of an evidence-planting deputy sheriff, Zach Wester. Hess also recused himself from the case, probably because the judges ganged up on him and made it so, and he was already looking pretty bad...

One thing Hess said that was probably true though: the prosecutor's office probably doesn't have the kind of manpower available to review the video evidence in each and every case brought before their office, and that's why the SAO only looked at videos in police shootings, police beat-downs, and other matters of that sort. And it really *did* take a small army of FDLE men to find the video that did Wester in... in fact, those fifty-five agents are still working on the case, instead of doing all the other stuff that FDLE agents need to be doing on behalf of the state and its residents.

Ms. Pumphrey, however, has resigned from the prosecutor's office and actually filed a "whistle blower's suit" against Hess and the 14th Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office. She claims that the harassment was non-stop once Hess chewed her ass last year, and she's pissed about it.

Do not look for this one to be resolved in a court of law, though. Despite the public's idea that "there's no such thing as bad publicity", in fact there is such a thing-- and elected officials damned sure know it.

Pumphrey's attorney in the whistle blower suit seems highly confident that her client will be satisfied by the state's redressment of her complaints, saying that Pumphrey "...is the hero of these folks who never should have been charged to begin with."

I must pause here to applaud that statement. :applause:

For more information see:

Whistleblower's Blues


--R
 
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Bill Hicklin

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Hess also should perhaps have considered the ramifications of chewing out a subordinate for doing what is legally mandatory. Evidence that a cop or other witness is being dishonest is information the prosecutor absolutely, positively must reveal to the defense, and Hess is in real trouble if he, in effect, ordered Pumphrey not to do it. "Experienced prosecutor," my ass. Experienced cheat is more like it, and the FL Bar ought to take a good long look at his licensure.
 




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