Body Cameras

Police Body Camera Appears to Catch Baltimore Officer Planting Drugs for a Search

This is why law enforcement should not have control over whether footage is released.

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Baltimore Police body camera footage publicly released this week that appears to show an officer planting drugs at a crime scene, offered not one but two important takeaways.

Law enforcement officers should not determine whether body camera footage can be publicly released. This is exactly the type of behavior that we should worry will be concealed under Pennsylvania's new law that presumptively treats police recordings as though they are exempt from public records disclosures.

Much less discussed was the suspect, whose heroin possession charges were dropped by prosecutors after the release of the footage. The man had been in jail for more than six months because he couldn't scrape together the cash for bail in a system badly in need of reform.

When the public defender's office released the camera footage yesterday it very quickly became national news.

The officer's apparent intent was to use his body camera to capture finding drugs in a baggie in a soup can during a search. The body cameras used by Baltimore police, however, have a buffering system that takes 30 seconds of video without audio prior to the officer actually turning the camera on.

This footage showed the officer placing the baggie in the soup can, with two officers watching. The three officers walk away from the scene. With the camera on the officer is back at the scene appearing to look over a few things before finding the can and the drugs.

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton highlighted the video on Twitter yesterday before reporting the story:

The officer has been suspended and the two others put on administrative duty while the police investigate what happened. While it appears that the officer is planting the drugs at the scene, the police commissioner noted that it's also possible they had found the drugs earlier and then decided they needed to "recreate" finding the drugs with the body cameras operating.

It probably doesn't need mentioning "recreating" a discovery of drugs on camera, for whatever reason, is still fundamentally dishonest behavior.

The suspect had been in jail since January, with his bail set at $50,000. How much taxpayer money was spent keeping this guy locked up? For that matter, how much money will taxpayers end up paying when he sues the city of Baltimore?

And what will happen to the case in which the suspended officer testified, apparently even after prosecutors were made aware of the drug "find" footage?

An unusual team of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and freshman Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) announced today their Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act. If passed, it would set aside $10 million in federal grants to encourage states to reform their bail laws and an additional $5 million to create a national pretrial reporting program to collect data on how the systems work on a state and municipal level.

The bill calls for bail to reflect the risks those arrested present to the public and prevent people from being stuck in jail cells solely because they cannot afford to pay.

NEXT: Sessions Problems, Real Medical Costs, LA 92 and O.J.'s Juice: The New Fifth Column

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  1. Reason writers should spend more time in the comments, I think we covered this 4 days ago.

    1. But you didn’t get paid for it.

  2. The suspect had been in jail since January, with his bail set at $50,000. How much taxpayer money was spent keeping this guy locked up? For that matter, how much money will taxpayers end up paying when he sues the city of Baltimore?

    That’s why they need more assets forfeitures, to pay for stuff like this.

  3. While it appears that the officer is planting the drugs at the scene, the police commissioner noted that it’s also possible they had found the drugs earlier and then decided they needed to “recreate” finding the drugs with the body cameras operating.

    It’s also possible a soup can sans a drug stash made the office fear for his life. This excuse will be allowed to stand even though for obvious reasons it cannot be. This should taint every conviction with this guy’s name in the evidence chain or his having given sworn testimony.

    1. If I was searching that trash strewn lot I’d fear for my life.

  4. Sooner or later we’ll figure out the proper way to have a class of people who are exempt from our moral and legal standards. I can just feel it

  5. Well, since I’m certain this is the first and only time this has happened, past arrests/convictions still remain a valid justification for cops shooting people, and differential policing of entire communities.

  6. Why am I not surprised?

  7. Damn now the police are even recording themselves doing shady shit. They should be fired and thrown in prison for sheer incompetence alone.

    1. I see no reason to pay for their upkeep when I’m sure some Saud prince needs three harem eunuchs.

  8. If you plant it, they will come.

  9. Good Lord this is awful. I feel so bad for the innocent guy.

  10. Lol at spending money to encourage police departments to reform. Put these three cops in jail. That is a lot cheaper and sends a more powerful message.

    1. So would a woodchipper.

    2. This^

      (Will never happen).

  11. How many more cases do these officers have amazing footage of their drug “finds”? They’ve done once that we know of, all of his cases are now suspect.

    Big ol can of worms right here 😉

    1. “So even if it is indeed true that they simply staged a re-creation of finding the drugs, these officers have not only destroyed their own credibility, they have single-handedly destroyed the credibility of every piece of video where BPD officers find contraband without a clear lead-in that negates the possibility of it being staged,” Rocah said. “That’s quite a day’s work.”

      1. And EXCELLENT work it was.

      2. So were those re-creation-al drugs?

  12. “……..while the police investigate what happened” .

    I feel so much better now.

  13. These ‘hero’s’ should receive whatever his sentence would have been, and then some.

    1. At a minimum, six months in stir for each of them.

  14. Publicizing crooked cops is good.
    Publicizing crooked cops whom are retarded, is even better!

  15. The thing is, the planting of evidence is probably so common, we’d be terrified with the truth.

  16. “……..while the police investigate what happened” .

    Because it is not like there is video evidence or anything.

    Does Baltimore have perjury laws? Is perjury a federal crime? Will the cops ever actually be indicted? Will unicorns get the vote? Who is John Galt?

  17. OK, now that they know there is the 30-second buffering before the camera turns on, they’ll just do the evidence planting more than 30 seconds before they turn it on.

    Body cameras need to be on all the time, apparently.

  18. ” the police commissioner noted that it’s also possible they had found the drugs earlier and then decided they needed to “recreate” finding the drugs with the body cameras operating.”

    Because manufacturing evidence is perfectly acceptable.

    Cops hate cameras, even to the point that they will say things that render otherwise credible evidence unreliable.

  19. Freakin insane, the police commissioner is already giving an out for the scum officer, recreating for the camera, are F’ing kidding me!! The Mayor needs to fire that clown A S A P!

  20. Trust me, it takes a cop with big cojones to report another cop for doing something wrong. The three officers who walked away were apparently aware he was going to do something wrong, and they didn’t want to be involved. I removed two sheriff’s from office, one for stealing a saddle in Montana, and one for being a drunk and falsifying reports.

    It was never a good career move and I ended up leaving the agency, but somehow I just can’t handle someone in power who takes advantage of their elected position. Many times law enforcement and people in EMS forget who they work for, us. If you take an oath, they stand by it. The ONLY thing a man ever really owns, is his word. If your word is no good, how good can the man be?

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