Public Defender: Video Shows Baltimore Cop Planting Drugs
City police commissioner says officer may have been 're-creating' drug bust
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2017 7:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – A man in jail since January on heroin possession charges got a lucky break: bodycam footage apparently showing a Baltimore cop planting drugs. The Baltimore Sun and Washington Post report on probes now in the works after the city's public defender released the video last week, taped by the officer's own camera. In the footage, the officer, identified as Richard Pinheiro, is seen in the Jan. 24 incident placing a soup can with a plastic bag in an alley. He then walks to the street, turns on his bodycam, and says, "I'm gonna check here." He walks back to the can; the plastic bag is shown to contain white capsules. The camera automatically tapes for 30 seconds, sans audio, before it's activated, which is what captured the alleged drug-planting; CNN notes a possible reference to those 30 seconds can be heard on the tape. Footage after that came when Pinheiro flicked the camera on.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis notes an investigation is ongoing and says there's more footage from the incident offering "other perspectives." He also floats the possibility that Pinheiro and two other cops seen in the video were "re-creating" their drug bust—which an ACLU lawyer tells the Sun would still be "potentially criminal." An attorney for the public defender's office, who says bodycam footage is "meaningless" if officers can switch it on and off, is also upset that state prosecutors still called Pinheiro as a witness in an unrelated case after the drug-planting allegations had been revealed; he's said to be a witness in more than 50 other active cases. Cops say one officer (presumably Pinheiro) has been suspended and two others placed on administrative duties. As for the man stuck in jail for six months on the heroin possession charges: Those charges have been dropped.

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