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A Texas cop lost his job after he got caught vaping confiscated weed on his own police cruiser's dashcam.
Chad Harden, a former cop who made hundreds of drug-related arrests during his 10-year career with the Texas Department of Public Safety, was suspended in June 2019 after the incident came to light. The Texas Rangers discovered the dashcam video while they were investigating allegations made against Harden by an unknown source.
The video shows Harden confiscating a weed vape from a suspect during a routine traffic stop. Just five minutes after giving the suspect a ticket and releasing him, the cop can be seen taking a small hit off the vape while sitting in the driver's seat of his cruiser. Nearly a half-hour later, the video clearly shows Harden pulling his car over and taking a massive hit off the vape.
Although this blunder actually occurred several years ago, the video of the incident was recently made public by David Sloane, an attorney that defends Texans who run afoul of the state's extreme pot prohibition laws. Sloane created a mini-documentary on Harden's case to point out the fact that the cop only got a slap on the wrist for getting high on duty, while thousands of other Texans end up spending months or years in prison for the same offense.
Harden was charged with tampering with THC to impair its use as police evidence and for possessing one to four grams of THC in connection with another incident. During the investigation, Harden claimed that he “accidentally inhaled THC, as stupidly as that sounds,’’ according to audio posted by Sloane. “I felt it fill up my lungs,” he continued. “I pushed it out as fast as I could. I did not mean to inhale it.’’
The cop faced up to ten years in jail for tampering with evidence, and another ten for possessing weed during another crime. But his weak-ass excuse was apparently good enough for the court, who allowed him to enter a plea agreement. Under this deal, the court dismissed the charges for THC possession and sentenced the former cop to two years of probation for evidence tampering.
Harden did resign from his job, but was not sent to jail, and now that he has served his probation, the conviction has been erased from his record. And although each of the crimes he was charged with carries thousands of dollars in maximum fines, the ex-cop got off with a $300 fine and $345 in court costs.
The case makes it clear that Texas courts don't really care if cops are stealing evidence and getting high on the job. Civilians who are busted for committing the very same crimes almost always face the full extent of the law, however. In one extreme case from last year, Texas cops arrested a mentally ill man for allegedly possessing one single joint, and then suffocated him to death while restraining him in jail.
There is one positive side to the story, though. The incident destroyed Harden's credibility as a witness, and at least five felony cases where the cop was the sole witness to the crime were dismissed in 2019. Since then, Sloane has also helped other people who Harden busted for pot-related crimes get their cases dismissed as well.