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The Baltimore Police Department and city prosecutors are investigating body camera footage flagged by the Maryland Office of the Public Defender as depicting an officer planting drugs in January, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Police said they have not reached any conclusions about the conduct of officer Richard Pinheiro, who was identified as the officer in footage by the public defender’s office. The public defender’s office also identified two other officers in the video, which garnered national attention Wednesday, as Hovhannes Simonyan and Jamal Brunson.

One officer has been suspended and two others have been placed on administrative duty, the report says. Prosecutors and police have placed cases involving the officers under review as well, the reports says.

The video reportedly shows Pinheiro placing a soup can containing a plastic bag into a trash strewn lot. After his body camera automatically turned on and captured him placing the can in the lot, he announced that he was going to search it. He then retrieved the can and removed the plastic bag filled with white capsules.

An alert from the public defender’s office to prosecutors about the video last week led to a heroin possession charge being dropped against the man arrested for the drugs, The Sun reports.

This is a serious allegation of police misconduct,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, NBC News reports. “There is nothing that deteriorates the trust of any community more than thinking for one second that police officers … would plant evidence of crimes on citizens.”

Baltimore police released three other videos of the incident in question to provide “other perspectives,” however, the flagged footage has prompted an investigation into whether Pinheiro re-enacted the recovery of a bag of drugs once their body cameras were turned on.

An Office of Community Oriented Policing Services report concluded that research to understand the impact of body cameras is lacking but cameras should help cops to protect and serve people. This “protect and serve” can only be put into action in Baltimore once the department reaches success with proving that all of its officers are following rules governing the technology.

SOURCE: NBC News, The Baltimore Sun


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