Activists on social media sent alleged a viral video showed a Wisconsin police officer planting evidence inside a vehicle during a traffic stop last Wednesday.
Now, the police department at the center of the allegations has released officer bodycam footage refuting the allegations.
What does the viral video show?
The short 14-second video shows an officer with the Village of Caledonia Police Department in Caledonia, Wisconsin, toss an item into the backseat of a vehicle that was allegedly pulled over for traveling 63 mph in a 45 mph zone.
"Hey bro, what's that?" the passenger of the vehicle asked the police officer who threw the item into the car.
"What's what?" the officer responded.
"What you just threw in here. I got you on camera, bro," the passenger responded.
The passenger then panned his camera to show what the officer appeared to toss into the backseat of the car. The officer told the passenger that he was also recording the interaction, presumably through his officer bodycam.
What does the officer bodycam footage show?
Body camera footage posted by the police department on Saturday shows the bag that was thrown into the car, as seen in the viral video, had been retrieved from a passenger before the viral video began. The viral video only showed the officer returning the material to the car.
Police chief Christopher Botsch explained:
A subsequent search of one of the rear passengers produced an empty corner tear (corner of a plastic baggie) from a passenger's pocket. The empty corner tear did NOT contain any illegal substance; however, this type of packaging is a common method for holding illegal drugs. 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.
"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," Botsch added. "Additionally, the empty corner tear is not itself illegal."
No arrests were made during the stop. Only the driver was cited for speeding, Botsch said.