Friday, August 6, 2021

Caledonia releases full body camera footage from viral baggie incident


The initial cellphone video shows an officer throwing an empty plastic bag in the car he pulled over.

The Caledonia Police Department has now released the full body camera footage of an incident from nearly two weeks ago when an officer was recorded tossing an empty plastic bag in the backseat of a car.

The passenger who recorded the video accused the officer of planting evidence.

This viral cellphone video, posted by Facebook user La Savoo on July 24, now has over one million views.

The Caledonia Police Department said the incident happened on July 21, just before 3:30 p.m., on State Highway 32 near 5 Mile road.

Initially, police released some of the body camera footage. WISN 12 News made a records request for the full body camera footage.

On Thursday, WISN 12 News obtained all of the footage, after making a records request. It shows four separate angles from the different officers on scene.

"The reason I stopped you is for speed, going 63 in a 45," said the officer who made the initial stop, Officer Gorney.

Gorney then asked for everyone's names, after he saw the rear seat passengers not buckled properly.

The passengers declined, which is legal. Officer Gorney then asked the driver to step out.

"This can either be nothing or this is going to turn into something it probably doesn't need to," Gorney said. "What's in the car that shouldn't be? Just a little bit of weed? Nothing? We're sure about that?"

The driver shakes her head no when Gorney asks if there are drugs in the car.

"Your answer didn't sound very confident. Did not sound confident at all. I don't think you felt very confident in your answer, as well," Gorney said to the driver.

When other officers arrived, they ordered each of the passengers out of the car, one by one.

Officers searched and handcuff the passengers, and placed them in the back of the squads.

During one of the searches, officers pulled an empty, ripped plastic bag from a passenger's pocket. They also pulled a baggie tied off at the top, filled with a white substance, from the passenger's other pocket.

The passenger did not say what was in the empty bag beforehand and said the other bag was a prescription medication for his grandmother.

"I mean, it's not normal to tie bags like this, that's why we're asking," said Officer Wolfe, one of the other responding officers.

Gorney took the empty bag from the passenger and threw it in the backseat of the car, where La Savoo was still recording.

"Hey bro, you just threw that in here," La Savoo said.

"Yeah, because it was in his pocket and I don't want to hold onto it," Gorney said. "I'm telling you where it came from. It's an empty baggie, at the moment."

The Caledonia Police Department has not clarified why officers pulled the passengers from the car, searched and handcuffed them.

The police chief spoke to WISN 12 News on July 26.

"With the context that we now have, we can see he was clearly not planting evidence. For a number of reasons. The baggie contains no illegal substance and is not itself illegal," said Chief Christopher Botsch. "The officer certainly wasn't carrying this item with the intent to plant it, because it originated from the pockets of one of the passengers."

The body camera footage shows officers eventually letting three of the passengers go. In the video, they said they were taking the fourth passenger, a minor who had the baggie of unknown drugs in his pocket, to Walgreens first. Officers said they wanted to check if he had any prescriptions under his name there. The officers said they were then going to take the passenger home.

WISN 12 News has reached out to La Savoo, who posted the cellphone video, multiple times for comment and has not received any responses.


No comments: