Body cam images appear to show police planting weed on a black teenager. What do you see?

In 2013, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. While some predicted legal reefer would be the downfall of society, studies show that crime rates in weed-legal states have either remained the same or dropped post-legalization.

However, recreational marijuana is only currently legal in 10 states.

So throughout most of the country, state governments are still arresting, fining, and jailing their citizens while wasting countless millions on courts, prisons, and law enforcement in the process.


According to Newsweek, nearly 600,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession in 2016, costing taxpayers billions of dollars. Black people are arrested nearly four times more often than white people for possession although they use the drug at similar rates.

A marijuana case was recently dropped by prosecutors in New York after it appears as though police officers planted weed in a car driven by a black teenager.

On February 28, two officers from Staten Island’s 120th Precinct, Kyle Erickson and Elmer Pastran, stopped a BMW sedan for failing to signal before a turn and having excessively tinted windows.

The car was driven by 19-year-old Lasou Kuyateh who was accompanied by three friends.

Kuyateh plead guilty to an assault charge in 2015.

The four young black men admitted to smoking marijuana beforehand but said there wasn’t any in the car. “I don’t appreciate being lied to,” Officer Pastran responded. “I know there is weed in the car. I smell it.”

Body camera footage shows that during the arrest, Erickson searched the rear of the car, including the back seat, without finding any contraband. Then, while searching the driver’s seat, he says, “We’ve got to find it. We have to find something.”

Then, miraculously, Erickson’s body camera goes off. He’d later claim it had a technical issue.

But Pastran’s body cam remained on during the same time. His device captured him searching the floor area of the back seat without finding anything.

A minute later, Erickson, still with his body camera turned off, is filmed returning to the back seat and fiddling with something.

Kuyateh, the driver of the car, films Erickson handling two small bags in the back seat and accuses him of “putting something in my car.”

Erickson tells him to “step back.”

Kuyateh is then handcuffed and his phone is confiscated.

After Kuyateh was arrested, Erickson’s body camera magically turned back on and, low and behold, he found a lit joint resting in a place that was had been repeatedly searched.

After the incident, Kuyateh spent two weeks in jail before getting out on bail. He would have to appear in court ten times.

The charges were eventually dropped against Kuyateh, citing the gap in Officer Erickson’s body-worn camera as the reason. An internal police investigation later found no evidence of misconduct by the officers.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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