More video emerges of suspected drug
planting by Baltimore police
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[August 03, 2017]
By Jonathan Allen
(Reuters) - The Baltimore Police Department
suspended seven officers after body camera video emerged that the city's
public defender said appeared to show them planting drugs in a car
during a traffic stop, the second such episode in the city in two weeks.
Some of the videos published this week showed officers searching around
the driver's seat of a car for several minutes but finding nothing
during the stop on Nov. 29 last year. Other videos recorded about 30
minutes later show one officer crouching near the seat as others look
When he steps back, colleagues can be seen switching on their cameras,
at which point audio can be heard. The cameras are designed to store
silent video footage of the 30 seconds preceding the camera's
"Now?" someone can be heard saying. Then a different officer steps
toward the seat and quickly makes a discovery.
"Oh here you go," he says, holding up a black bag that police say
contained illegal drugs. "That's the weed smell right there."
The videos were released by the lawyer of one of two people in the car
who were arrested on drugs charges. The charges were dropped on Monday,
the Baltimore Sun said.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis defended his officers on
Wednesday, telling a news conference his department was facing "growing
pains" with the technology they started using 14 months ago.
"I do know it's not healthy to jump to a conclusion that officers did
something criminal just because their camera was off," Davis said,
adding that he would wait until an internal investigation was complete
before making a judgment.
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A still image captured from police body camera video appears to show
a Baltimore police officer placing a small plastic bag in a
trash-strewn yard as two colleagues look on (not shown) according to
the Maryland Office of the Public Defender in this image released in
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S. on July 19, 2017. Courtesy Baltimore
Police Department/Handout via REUTERS
Last month the city's public defender released video of another
incident involving different officers, which appeared to show one of
them planting a small bag of capsules in a trash-strewn yard.
Charges against the man arrested in that case also were dropped and
state prosecutors began examining about 123 other cases involving
that officer and two colleagues.
Forty-one of those cases have been thrown out so far because they
relied on the officers' credibility, state prosecutors said.
Davis also released other videos that he said raised the possibility
the officers in the earlier incident were not planting drugs but
instead wrongly staged cleaner reshoots of an earlier narcotics
After the new videos emerged, Davis wrote to officers reminding them
of the rules for using the cameras, noting it was forbidden to
"recreate" discovering evidence.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Additional reporting by Zachary
Goelman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Phil Berlowitz)
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