STATEBORO, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - You can add Georgia Southern University's starting quarterback to the list of innocent people wrongly charged with drugs based on a faulty roadside drug test.
Shai Werts insisted that what deputies found on his car hood was simply bird droppings he had tried to rinse off. The test kit told Saluda County, SC deputies it was cocaine.
Turns out, they should have followed the QB's call.
On July 31, deputies said they clocked Werts driving 78 miles per hour in a 55 zone and pulled him over. They spotted a white substance spread over his front hood and decided to do a field drug test.
That's when the red shirt junior would soon learn the downside of not thoroughly washing your car.
Here's the exchange on dashcam video between the deputy and Werts:
Deputy: "All right man. I don't know what you got going on in your life or whatever. But that's a field test kit. It's distributed to us by the state--"
Deputy: "If it turns pink or blue it means it's positive for cocaine It doesn't just turn--"
Werts: "It's bird (bleep)."
Deputy: "It's not bird (bleep)"
Werts: "I swear to God."
Deputy: "It looks nothing like bird poop man. We know what bird poop looks like."
Werts would be charged with misdemeanor cocaine position and spend the night in jail.
The Clinton, SC native was preparing for his third season as Georgia Southern's quarterback when the arrest stunned the Eagle Nation. They open in three weeks against LSU.
"I have no reason to lie about cocaine," you can hear Werts tell the deputy while handcuffed in the back of the patrol car. "I play football sir. I don't do cocaine."
A FOX 5 I-Team investigation last year revealed just how unreliable these field tests can be. We profiled innocent Georgians also wrongly arrested for common items found in their car. Breath mints... cotton candy... vitamins. It took months before the GBI crime lab results came back proving they were innocent. Each time they tried to explain to authorities the test kit was wrong.
Werts did, too. Over and over.
Werts: "I pulled over last night to clean my car and it didn't come off with that little thing you use to clean it with."
Deputy: "That's a lot of bird poop man."
But Werts was lucky. Instead of months, the South Carolina Crime Lab issued its report within a week. What deputies found on the quarterback's car was not cocaine.
This week prosecutors dismissed the drug charge. A sheriff's spokesman told the FOX 5 I-Team Werts was already heading to jail on the speeding charge even before the test kit wrongly detected drugs. He said it took several miles before Werts agreed to pull over. Werts said he was only looking for a lighted spot and called 911 to let them know that's why he wasn't pulling over immediately.
Werts was suspended for two practices because of the speeding charge. If the cocaine charge had not been dropped, he would have been required to miss the first game of the season per the school's policy for misdemeanor arrests.
Werts plans to address the matter with reporters Saturday morning after practice.