Did Baltimore Officer Plant Drug Evidence?

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Police and prosecutors in Baltimore have launched investigations after being alerted to body camera footage that the public defender’s office says shows an officer planting drugs, the Baltimore Sun reports. One officer has been suspended and two others have been placed on administrative duty. The public defender’s office says the footage was recorded by an officer during a drug arrest in January. It shows the officer placing a soup can, which holds a plastic bag, into a trash-strewn lot. That portion of the footage was recorded automatically, before the officer activated the camera. After placing the can, the officer walks to the street, and flips his camera on.

“I’m gonna go check here,” the officer says. He returns to the lot and picks up the soup can, removing the plastic bag, which is filled with white capsules. Police cameras have a feature that saves the 30 seconds of video before activation, but without audio. The public defender’s office flagged the video for prosecutors last week, prompting prosecutors to drop the heroin possession charge against the man arrested. The man, unable to post $50,000 bail, had been in jail since January, according to attorney Deborah Levi, who is leading a new effort to track police misconduct cases for the public defender’s office. The footage got national attention yesterday, and comes as prosecutors and police continue to deal with the fallout from the federal indictment of seven members of an elite police gun squad. Those officers are accused of robbing citizens, filing false court paperwork and claiming overtime they had not earned.

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