Eagle fans woke up Friday morning to some shocking news.
Starting QB Shai Werts and DE Quan Griffin had both been arrested, on completely separate incidents, and are suspended indefinitely. According to Travis Jaudon of the Savannah Morning News, Quan Griffin’s charges look very severe:
The Glen Saint Mary, Fla. native (Baker County High School) was charged with six felonies and two misdemeanors after being arrested at 5:35 p.m. Thursday. The felony charges listed on the police report, obtained by the Savannah Morning News on Friday, are: aggravated battery, weapon offense, burglary, larceny, robbery of residence and obstructing justice. Misdemeanors listed were battery and damage of property — criminal mischief.
We’ll set aside Griffin’s case for now and focus on Shai Werts’s case which is much more…subject to debate.
According to the incident report which can be found here, here are the details of the case as far as I know.
- Werts was clocked going 80 in a 55 mph zone in the town of Saluda, SC.
- Cops asked Werts to pull over, Werts called 911 and said he planned to drive closer to town to a more well-lit area.
- Werts charged with speeding.
- Cops notice a “white substance” on the hood of Werts’s car. Werts claims it was bird poop. He claims that he attempted to wash it off at a car wash in Newberry.
- Officers do two field tests on the white substance and they both test positive for cocaine. Substance appeared to have been wiped by winshield wipers and wiper fluid.
- Werts is arrested and charged with possession of less than 1 gram of cocaine.
Frank Sulkowski of Savannah’s WJCL has done a superb job reporting on the case today, had this to say after talking with a lawyer.
Spoke with some attorney’s about the arrest of Georgia Southern QB Shai Werts. Found some of their thoughts interesting for sure.
1. The laws of physics seem to have been defied.
2. Field Test Kits are notoriously unreliable.
3. Some cops (very very very few) pre-mix field test kits to make a positive result. A deputy in Florida was just arrested for doing this.
4. He was arrested for speeding? No one gets arrested for speeding unless they’re doing 100+, and even then oftentimes still only get a ticket. Why do you need to cuff someone for speeding? I have never had a client arrested for speeding alone. I’ve been practicing criminal defense for 10 years.
5. He’s carrying coke but calling 911? Come on. Although I’ve seen people do some really stupid things, this one doesn’t make sense.
6. The number one thing that jumps out to me is that they didn’t search the rest of the vehicle. That NEVER happens. If law enforcement has PC to get in a car, they’re tearing it apart. Every time.
After scanning the police report, some of the language really caught my attention.
– “Everything about [Werts] and inside [Werts’] vehicle made him appear as a clean person but the hood of his car was out of place.”
– “SGT Rodgers transported Yafari to the jail without cause.”
– “R/O did not have appropriate tools to gather the substance but scraped the substance into a (sic) evidence bag and transported it back to the Sheriff’s office.”
In addition to the fact that they didn’t justify probable cause, Werts appeared to be clean to the cops, he called 911 to communicate his plan to pull over in town, they did not have the appropriate tools, it was $1 worth of cocaine, and that the supposed cocaine defied the laws of physics by landing on the hood of a car reportedly going 85 mph; cocaine field tests are notoriously flimsy. Fox 5 in Atlanta recently did a report on this and won a Peabody Award for it. Fox 5 identified over 145 false positives just in one year in the state of Georgia using these tests. In their report “vitamins, headache powder, and cotton candy that wrongly tested positive for ecstasy, cocaine and methamphetamines.”
If that’s not bad enough, cops have been known to RIG FIELD TESTS. According to Reason Magazine a cop in Florida got caught rigging a field test on a body cam! The New York Times did a report on 2016 and had this to say:
There are no established error rates for the field tests, in part because their accuracy varies so widely depending on who is using them and how. Data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab system show that 21 percent of evidence that the police listed as methamphetamine after identifying it was not methamphetamine, and half of those false positives were not any kind of illegal drug at all. In one notable Florida episode, Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies produced 15 false positives for methamphetamine in the first seven months of 2014. When we examined the department’s records, they showed that officers, faced with somewhat ambiguous directions on the pouches, had simply misunderstood which colors indicated a positive result.
I’m no legal scholar but a decent lawyer should be able to get these charges thrown out. A lot about this story is suspicious. There are more holes in this police report than a volleyball net. That’s before even mentioning the 500 lb gorilla in the room: Race. We won’t touch that for now.
Werts has been suspended indefinitely. He’ll likely miss the LSU game. Who knows what happens after. Redshirt freshman Justin Tomlin, junior Jaalon Frazier, and true freshman Jaden Jenkins are the three other QBs on the roster. They’ll battle it out for the right to fill in until the case gets adjudicated. Werts obviously was a huge part of Georgia Southern’s success last year. His legs single-handily won Georgia Southern the Camellia Bowl and a half dozen other games last season. He’s the heart and soul of the team. The leader.
I know “DO RIGHT” is one of the late great Erk Russell’s famous catchphrases. Werts shouldn’t have been speeding. I get that. But heck I’ve gotten more speeding tickets than I’d like to admit. Not once did an officer scrape the hood of my car for cocaine residue. Seems like the cops overreached a bit here. Shai deserves our support. Eagles support and love one another. Just like last year when his childhood home burned down before fall practice, Eagle Nation needs to circle the wagons and support him and his family through this trying time, whether he did it or not.