In case you missed it check out this paid-only Hell World from the other day about all the ways student loan lender Navient are fucking us over. Thank you for your support it means a lot.
The reason for my stop is your break lights Zach Wester tells the woman he’s just pulled over. Yes sir says Teresa Odom and the Jackson County Florida Deputy asks to see her license and she chuckles in the nervous way you do when you get pulled over and you’re trying to be friendly which is the defense mechanism our species has adapted to protect ourselves from the police our only natural predator. I just got tickets the other day I’m happy to show them to you she says haha and Wester goes haha no you’re fine. Wester is so polite with her and it’s just a routine break light stop so there’s no reason for anyone to think anything is amiss and then he walks back to his patrol car and returns and apparently his hip gives out a little bit and he asks her did you see that haha and she goes I’ve been at the hospital all day with my eighty four year old uncle I know how it is etc haha and he goes I hope everything turns out good with that and he says it with kindness like a normal person would say something. Anything in the vehicle I need to be concerned about he asks her any bombs, hand grenades, rocket launchers he says haha. He says there’s a K-9 coming but instead of that would she consent to a search of her car and she says ok because she knows that she has nothing to hide and what harm could it do and so she goes to stand with another cop who’s arrived and Wester starts searching her car and he does a little sleight of hand where he plants a bag of meth in the front seat and at first he hides the baggie just so under something else but then thinks better of it and arranges it on top of a spoon and all the while he’s shooting the shit back and forth with her and she goes if you find my missing $5 in there let me know she says and he says haha I will and it’s sickening to watch it’s like watching a serial killer in a horror movie stalking a group of horny college kids outside their cabin but in this case it’s something scarier than that it’s the police.
So then he brings the baggie back to her and says what’s this hmm and she says it’s not mine no sir and and he goes to test it in his little cop drug testing kit like a chemistry teacher that is allowed to kill you and she’s on the phone with a friend explaining what happened and she says I guess I’m going to go to jail and then she does.
The notable thing about this and the only reason we know about it is because Wester did all of this with his own body camera on essentially recording himself planting drugs on an innocent person which is something he had probably become so comfortable doing he didn’t even think to turn off the camera this particular time. You can watch a video of this particular arrest here if you want to but fair warning it’s sickening to watch it’s like watching a fly caught in a web being digested by a spider but it’s worse than that the spider also has a gun.
Wester the friendly cop was eventually caught up on his bullshit in July of this year after a nine month investigation and he was charged with multiple counts of racketeering, false imprisonment, fabricating evidence and possession of controlled substances and other shit leading to officials in Florida reviewing three hundred of his arrests and dropping charges in 120 of them according to the Tallahassee Democrat and it’s good news that a lot of the people he arrested have been released but that sense of relief you might be feeling at the system finally correcting itself doesn’t account for the trauma many of them experienced or the very serious consequences they faced for even being arrested in the first place.
One such person whose life he fucked up was a man named Benjamin Bowling who was a passenger in a vehicle that Wester pulled over for a break light violation. According to the arrest affidavit for Wester he said at the time that he smelled marijuana in the car which was a common tactic of his and also still is for police everywhere and he stuck his snout into the car and came up with a couple baggies of meth.
Sometimes Wester would have been able to arrest people he pulled over for legitimate reasons but he still planted meth on them anyway.
“Bowling maintained that the drugs were not his or Smith's [the driver] and he had no knowledge of their presence,” according to the affidavit. “At the time, the Department of Children and Families had awarded Bowling custody of his daughter and he consistently submitted to drug testing. Bowling was adamant he had been clean since he was released from prison for a DUI conviction. Furthermore, Bowling voluntarily took a drug test after he was arrested and it was negative. Bowling contacted the Sheriff’s Office and requested that the drugs were tested for DNA and fingerprints. Bowling also requested the body camera video but never received it. Bowling lost custody of his daughter because of the arrest.”
Many of them people Wester arrested over the years are suing him and the Sheriff of Jackson County named Lou Roberts in a case you can read here although I could only find it on Pacer and I had to sign up for a subscription and they charge you like .10 cents for every page you even lookup never mind access even if it’s not the one you wanted and you searched wrong and it’s very cool that the public can’t just read this shit for free. There are plenty of popular websites you can see mugshots of people like the ones Wester arrested though.
Two of Wester’s other victims who are suing are a woman named Lora Penn and a man named Kenneth Shaw. Penn was a passenger in Shaw’s car when they were pulled over in June of 2018. They were stopped like the others for an alleged break light that wasn’t working and when Wester searched the vehicle he placed meth and syringes and a scale with meth on it in the car and in Penn’s purse.
Shaw was arrested and held for a month and “during the first five days of his incarceration, Shaw was in his cell and was provided no food or water,” according to the lawsuit. “Moreover, at the time of arrest, Shaw’s vehicle was towed and impounded where it remains because Shaw lacks sufficient funds required to retrieve his vehicle from the impound lot.”
It’s no coincidence that police feel enabled to fuck with poorer people to a much larger degree than they do rich people obviously. You may remember this Hell World from back in February about a police sergeant in Portland Oregon who literally came out and said as much.
Penn was also arrested alongside Shaw and held in jail for two weeks until her mother posted bond “exhausting her meager financial resources” according to their lawsuit.
“Penn’s mother was thereafter unable to afford medical care and died due to lack of such care,” it says.
It’s probably not necessary for me to hang a lamp on that last line but I will anyway because I’m trying hard to think of anything that more accurately summarizes Hell World than an old woman spending her last few dollars to spring her daughter out of jail on a false drug charge cooked up by a crooked cop then dying because she couldn’t afford the medicine she needed anymore.
Wait hold on I just saw this story in my timeline. I guess someone bought a pair of Eva Braun’s panties at an auction in the UK for £3,700 and then I also saw this video of a crowd erupting into applause as the first person to purchase an iPhone 11 in Syndey walked out of an Apple Store so Hell World is a spectrum I suppose you could say.
Then I just read this story about the Army reaching its recruiting goals of 68,000 for the year and one of the things they attribute that success to is how everyone is in debt and can’t afford college.
“One of the national crises right now is student loans, so $31,000 is [about] the average,” Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command said. It’s actually closer to $40,000 but ok Frank Muth.
“You can get out [of the Army] after four years, 100 percent paid for state college anywhere in the United States,” he said.
“A significant part of the recruiting push has been showing that the Army serves as a pathway to America’s middle class, with several service leaders noting that their children used GI Bill benefits and ROTC scholarships,” the Army Times reported.
“I have three kids serving. A lot of us have kids serving,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said. “And the reason is because we see it as a pathway to success.”
lol that’s not funny at all but that success quote reminded me of this gag by my buddy David Roth — one of the best chroniclers of Trump’s Cursed Mind Journey we have — from 2014 where he made up a Trump quote on Twitter and then Trump approvingly retweeted it not understanding it was something he himself had never said.
2014 man what a concept.
When they announced the arrest of Wester Teresa Odom the woman from the video cried and you can see a picture of her crying here she has her hand over her mouth and she’s crying and then there’s another photo of her looking up like at the sky or God or whomever and she has an ecstatic expression of relief and I want to share that feeling of relief with her but I can’t help but think about how many thousands or tens of thousands of other people are currently in prison or have had their lives ruined because of corrupt cops and indifferent prosecutors and performatively hard on crime judges and politicians.
At that press conference Odom was crying at in July Sheriff Lou Roberts — who is retiring and not seeking re-election after the embarrassment of this whole thing and at the very least it is nice to know someone involved retains the ability to feel shame — and State Attorney William Eddins explained additional details about Wester including all the drugs they found in the trunk of his police car.
They also said they didn’t have a motive for why he would do this.
“You’re never certain of the ways of the heart of man,” Eddins said and that is an understatement buddy and also I want to point out that sometimes when I write these it’s hard to pick a headline that summarizes things up but not this time.
He added that Wester could face thirteen years in prison if convicted of all charges and then they all said a bunch of shit which basically amounts to One Bad Apple Syndrome which is what happens when a cop is corrupt or violent and as far as I can tell no one else was fired or charged with a crime but the suit against Wester filed by the victims also names another deputy from Jackson County named Trevor Lee who is alleged to have conspired with Wester to fuck over a guy named Darrel Watkins.
Watkins was arrested in March of 2018 by Wester who told him he was worried he might be experiencing medical distress when coming up with a reason for pulling him over according to the suit. Wester then said he smelled marijuana etc etc and then next thing you know he pulled off the Policeman’s Prestige with a bunch of drugs he likely planted.
Watkins was arrested and eventually paid a $5,100 bond to be released and then a few days later he was pulled over again this time by Lee for a break light violation. In body camera footage of that stop Lee can be seen and heard talking to Wester on his police radio and appears to make a call on his cell phone to “Zach” to tell him where he was and this is not the chief concern here at all but it’s fucked up to think that a guy named Zach with an h could be so evil.
When Zach Wester showed up he and Lee then allegedly placed more drugs on the same guy. Watkins was working at a tax filing place and this was right in the thick of tax season so the six days of work he missed led to him losing his job he says and also having his name broadcast on the local news as a drug trafficker probably didn’t help. You might be thinking it’s the police who are corrupt and the source of the problem here but it’s also the prosecutors who don’t look closely enough at the evidence given to them by the police and the local news too who carry the water for the cops in every city in the country and think they’re doing a public service by sharing cop propaganda every night to scared home owners who want to feel the illusion of safety against a problem that’s largely invented in the first place.
“People still had consequences. It wasn’t like this was just all erased,” Christina Pumphrey told the Appeal when talking about people like Watkins and the others who had their lives upended for nothing. She was working as an assistant state attorney in Florida in May of 2018 and was one of the first to begin looking into Wester’s arrests and got suspicious.
“Even though the charges got dropped, there were people sitting in jail for six months on no bond because of this case,” she said. “Or you’ve got people who have to spend money on supervision fees; they have to spend money paying for their own urine analysis test; they’ve done community service hours; they paid cost of bond—like $1,500. … You’re not getting back six months of your life. Or you’re not getting back the job that you lost because you sat in jail for a week before your girlfriend could get the bond money.”
She said at first her boss the chief assistant state attorney Larry Basford was pissed off at her for sharing Wester’s arrest videos with the sheriff’s office.
“He starts yelling over the phone. What was I doing looking through all the videos? Why in the world did I find the Teresa Odom video? Why was I looking for it? And just having an absolute fit,” she said.
I came across this song the other day and I really like it and someone in the comments translated the dialogue toward the end and I guess it’s from a Russian-dubbed version of the movie The Fountain about a guy traveling through time trying to find the fountain of youth so he can save his wife from cancer and it goes like this.
G: It didn't start today.
G: I'm losing sensitivity to hot and cold.
M: Why are you silent?
G: I just feel something different inside. I don't know how to describe it…So I was silent. Happy now?
M: You will blossom and I will live.
M: What are you doing here?
G: Walk with me.
M: I'm working.
G: So much snow. We always...
M: I can't! I have to work
G: Come on, Tommy!
M: Stop it!
G: There's no final chapter in this book. Will you help me?
G: Finish it. Finish.
M: I don't know how it ends.
G: You know. You will know.
M: You should be with me.
G: I am with you! Look!
G: I will always be with you.
G: I promise.
Here’s another song and I’m pretty sure most of you will find this one too abrasive but I’d really like you to try to listen to it because it’s one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time. I usually don’t give a shit about my Swedish heritage as a rule but this makes me question everything. At least wait until the end when the riff comes back b u t s l o w e r hoo boy.