Baltimore prosecutors drop dozens of cases after video appears to show cop planting evidence

Criminal Justice

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Prosecutors in Baltimore have dropped dozens of cases that rely on testimony by police officers who appear to be planting evidence in a video.

Prosecutors had dropped 41 cases as of Tuesday evening, while 55 others remained under review, report the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)

The video, released last month, shows a Baltimore officer apparently planting a bag of white capsules in an alleyway while two other officers watch. The officer walks away, seems to turn on his body camera, then returns to the spot and appears to retrieve the bag.

Body cameras retain material recorded 30 seconds before activation, and it’s possible the officer didn’t realize his initial actions were being recorded, the Times explains. It’s also possible that the officers found the bag in the alley but didn’t record it, so they re-enacted the discovery, according to Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.

One officer has been suspended and two others placed on administrative duty as the investigation proceeds.

Meanwhile, a defense lawyer released a second video on Tuesday that, in his view, shows a staged recovery of narcotics in a traffic stop, according to the Wall Street Journal and the Baltimore Sun. The charges against the driver were dropped as a result of the video.

The video consists of a series of views from body cameras of multiple officers searching a car. Cameras are turned off and reactivated, and an officer is shown reaching in and finding a bag that appears to contain drugs. The Public Defender’s office says the evidence was apparently found in an area of the car thoroughly searched about 30 minutes earlier with no results.

Police said the officer who found the evidence had a better idea of where to search than one who previously searched the area.


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