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Baltimore police have launched an investigation after body-cam footage emerged allegedly showing an officer planting drugs.
Released by the public defender’s office, the footage filmed in January shows the officer placing a bag in a can, which is lying in a lot filled with trash. Two fellow officers are seen witnessing the action before they leave the lot.
Upon leaving, the audio begins with the officer, identified by the public defender as Richard Pinheiro, saying, “I’m gonna go check here,” before re-entering the lot where he discovers the previously planted bag.
The audio kicks in 30 seconds after the video begins, indicating that the officer did not switch on the camera until after he left the yard the first time.
About 30 seconds of video is automatically saved on the body-cams prior to the device being activated, with audio omitted.
In a statement from the public defender, they claim Pinheiro is a witness in 53 active cases. The case in which the video is being used as evidence was dropped, with no decision being made on the others.
“We have long supported the use of police body cameras to help identify police misconduct, but such footage is meaningless if prosecutors continue to rely on these officers, especially if they do so without disclosing their bad acts,” said Debbie Katz Levi, head of the Baltimore Public Defender’s Special Litigation Section.
Speaking to the Baltimore Sun, Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith said an internal investigation has been launched into the incident.