Georgia Southern quarterback cleared of drug charge, player suspension lifted

According to the attorney for Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts, the solicitor has dropped the possession of cocaine charges
Updated: Aug. 9, 2019 at 12:33 PM EDT
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SALUDA COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - Samples of a white powdery substance taken from the hood of a car belong to Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts tested negative for any controlled substance, according to Deputy Solicitor Al Eargle, of the 11th Judicial Circuit of South Carolina. The sample tests were conducted by SLED.

Werts’ attorney has told WTOC that the solicitor’s office has dropped the possession of cocaine charges against his client. The attorney says charges for speeding are still pending.

This comes on the same day the Saluda County Sheriff’s Office released dash cam and in-car video of the July 31 arrest. WTOC was the only television station to travel to Saluda, S.C. to watch the body cam video from the arresting officer at the sheriff’s office. In that video, you can hear everything the officer said.

After the officers pulled Werts over, they noticed a white, caked-on, powdery substance on the hood, lining the windshield. It appeared to be wet farther down the hood.

One officer asked, “What is that?”

Another officer responded, “I have no idea.”

They began to search the vehicle and didn’t find much. Werts’ Georgia Southern-issued Adidas backpack was in the backseat.

One officer posed the question, “That’s all that is in there?”

One officer touched the white substance, taking up approximately a third of the hood.

He said, 'What the f*** is that? It’s not even dry. We’re going to test and see.”

The officer can be seen shaking the test kit to activate it. He asked himself, “is it turning pink?”

The body cam video showed the test did turn pink, indicating it was positive for cocaine.

Werts appeared stunned at the mention of the drug in the video from within the car.

“I don’t know what you have going on in your life or whatever. That’s a field test kit administered to us by the state. I mean, if it turns pink or blue, that means it’s positive for cocaine. It don’t just turn pink out of nowhere," the deputy told Werts.

While false-positives exist, Deputy Toby Horne - who did not respond to this call but is handling the media requests for the department - said false-positives are rare.

“I haven’t ever seen one that had a problem, or anything come back in a negative light. Sure, there’s other instances where something probably could make a test turn a false-positive, but in this case, I just don’t see it,” Horne said.

The arresting officer who responded is part of a K-9 unit with the Saluda County Sheriff’s Office, but never had the dog leave the patrol car to sniff around Werts’ vehicle. Horne says the officers did the right thing.

“Well, they found a substance on the hood of the car that was unidentified. Obviously, it was in plain view. They didn’t have any other reason to pull a K-9 out, and due to all the recent fentanyl problems, we don’t just throw our K9′s in those type of environments not knowing what the substance is,” Horne said.

The arresting officer asked Werts what the substance was. Werts said it was bird poop. The two have a back-and-forth and Werts was insistent that it’s from a bird. The officer disagreed.

The arresting officer then called his supervisor and tells him, “My little cocaine field test- it’s turning pink. It’s weird. He’s saying its bird poop, but I don’t believe anything he’s telling me. I don’t know, I think he must of threw it out at the front. I’m not sure how to wipe this stuff up though, and kind of contain it into evidence.”

The arresting officer sent his supervisor a photo of the hood. Then, two Saluda police officers checked the trunk where they found what they believe is a cigar box and a large Yeti cooler. The officers mentioned that these are expensive items. More Georgia Southern issued gear was also in the trunk.

The arresting officer said, “Looks like he plays ball for Georgia Southern or something.”

Another officer added, “he’s got a thing for a quarterback scholarship in the car.”

The arresting officer said, “he’s about to be s*** out of luck.”

The officers then took samples of the white substance.

The arresting officer called his supervisor back, saying, “I took a picture of the test kit and it’s as pink as can be. It’s freaking me out because I stuck my finger in it. He said he tried to wipe it up last night, but I think they might have had something going on last night or wherever he’s from - deal gone wrong, or hell, he might not even know about it."

Horne said if he had been in the situation, he would have done the same thing.

“It was a unique case, so I would call for my supervisor had I been on the route, because I’d want somebody else to see what I was seeing,” Horne said.

After being read his Miranda rights, Werts told the officer, “I have no reason to lie about cocaine. I play football, so I don’t do cocaine.”

Werts has been the starting quarterback for the Eagles the last two seasons.

Georgia Southern Athletics released a statement from the athletic director on Friday after the charges were dropped against Werts.

The Georgia Southern Athletic Director is giving a statement after cocaine possession charges were dropped against quarterback Shai Werts. ->

Posted by WTOC-TV on Friday, August 9, 2019

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