Deputy won't be disciplined after field test wrongly said bird poop on Georgia Southern QB's car was cocaine

Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts was quickly reinstated to the team in August after cocaine possession charges against him stemming from an unreliable field test were dropped. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

A South Carolina sheriff’s deputy won’t be punished after an unreliable field test performed on bird poop on the hood of Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts’ car concluded that the poop was cocaine.

Werts was pulled over on July 31 by officers from the Saluda Sheriff’s Department. When he was pulled over, a deputy performed a field test on the substance that was on the hood of Werts’ car despite Werts’ insistence that it was bird poop and that he had tried to clean it off his car the day before.

That field test indicated that the white substance tested positive for cocaine. Werts was then charged with cocaine possession.

Werts was suspended from the team after the charge but reinstated a week later after he passed a drug test. The charge against him was quickly dropped as well. An investigation began into the deputy’s actions. But according to the Greenville News, who obtained the results of that investigation, there will be no discipline for the deputy who performed the test.

Werts was placed in handcuffs in the squad car while his car was searched during the stop.

Yet Deputy Charles Allen Browder III did nothing wrong according to an internal investigation conducted by the Saluda sheriff's office. Browder remains on active duty and faces no discipline for his actions on the side of the road three months ago, according to personnel records obtained by The Greenville News this month via the state's Freedom of Information Act.

Test no longer solely used for charges

While Browder isn’t being disciplined by his employer, the Saluda sheriff’s department is no longer relying solely on the unreliable field tests to make drug-related charges.

"Now we'll no longer make charges if it's an unknown substance," Deputy chief Toby Horne told the paper. "We'll wait for lab results to come back."

The sheriff's office has stopped short of getting rid of the tests altogether even as scientists and experts say the tests are wildly unreliable because they show positive results for many common legal products, an investigation by The News found in August.

The cocaine field test used in Werts' case will even react to the presence of air, according to Omar Bagasra, a biology professor at Claflin University who researches drug field tests and directs the university's forensic lab.

Werts is Georgia Southern’s top QB

Werts has played in seven of nine games for the Eagles in 2019. He has 408 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown and has also thrown for 376 yards with five touchdowns. He’s the team’s leading passer and its third-leading rusher. He was at QB when Georgia Southern, 5-4, gave Appalachian State its first loss of the season on Oct. 31.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports

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