Baltimore State’s Attorney announces third body camera video of ‘questionable’ police conduct

Posted at 9:01 AM, Aug 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-22 09:01:09-04

A new body camera video that appears to show “questionable activity” by a Baltimore police officer has come to light, the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office announced Monday — the third body cam video to emerge this month that has raised concerns about possible police misconduct.

At least 43 cases involving the officers in the latest video will be dismissed as a result of this body cam footage, State Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby’s office said in a statement. Mosby’s office is also investigating whether any of the officers involved are material witnesses in any other ongoing cases where their testimony is essential to prosecution.

Officials in Baltimore have been contending with the fallout from two other body cam videos that have come out this summer. One appears to show an officer planting evidence at the scene of a drug arrest. The public defender’s office says the other shows “multiple officers working together to manufacture evidence.”

In a press briefing earlier this month, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis asked the public to wait for the investigation to be completed.

“I think it’s irresponsible to jump to a conclusion that the police officers were engaged in criminal misconduct. That’s a heavy allegation to make,” he told reporters.

CNN has reviewed the 16 body camera videos from the incident, and they do not appear to conclusively show officers planting evidence. However, more than 450 cases have been impacted by the those incidents, and over 100 of those are postponed or have been dismissed.

The third video surfaced after Baltimore Police Department officers reported their own conduct to their superiors, BPD spokesman T.J. Smith said. Police officials notified Mosby’s office on August 2.

The State’s Attorney for Baltimore City has referred the self-reported incident to the BPD internal affairs department, the office said in a statement.

No officers have been suspended in connection with the incident, but the BPD Internal Affairs Division is looking into it, Smith said.

The latest video appears to show an officer re-enacting the seizure of evidence in a June incident, according to Mosby’s office. Mosby’s office will not release the video, however, and cannot characterize the June incident due to the pending BPD investigation, according to Mosby’s spokeswoman Melba Saunders.

Regardless of BPD disciplinary action, Mosby could prosecute the officers should criminality be found, but that has not yet been determined, Saunders said.

Davis issued a memo to officers after the second video was released with a stern warning not to “attempt to recreate the recovery of evidence after re-activating your body worn camera.”

What the other videos showed

The first video released appears to show a Baltimore police officer planting drugs at the scene of an arrest in January.

That video, released by the Office of the Public Defender, appears to show an officer placing a plastic bag in a food can and then hiding it under debris. The officer leaves the scene only to return shortly after, and appears to stumble upon that plastic bag of drugs in the can.

One officer in that video has been suspended, and two others were placed on administrative duty amid an investigation, officials said.

The officers involved in that case have made no public comment.

The Baltimore City Office of the Public Defender released a second video a few weeks later, showing what they say are “multiple officers working together to manufacture evidence” during a November 29, 2016, drug arrest.

The footage shows an officer finding drugs that another officer had allegedly placed there moments before, said Debbie Katz Levi, head of the city public defender’s Special Litigation Section.

The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office said it “had questions” about the officers’ body camera videos and asked to postpone cases involving two officers amid an internal investigation, according to Saunders.

Smith said no officers were suspended but that two officers involved in that arrest were referred to the department’s Internal Affairs Division. Authorities have not identified either officer.

“Before we blanketly characterize their behavior as deceptive and/or a credibility issue, we referred the matter to the Internal Affairs Division of the Baltimore Police Department,” Saunders said in a statement on behalf of Mosby.

History of corruption

Long plagued by charges of corruption, the Baltimore Police Department has struggled to win public confidence. In March, seven Baltimore officers were federally charged with robbing citizens, filing false reports and claiming overtime fraudulently. Two of those now-former officers pleaded guilty in July.

Shortly after the charges came down, the commissioner said that the department would be ending plainclothes policing, telling The Baltimore Sun he was concerned that their methods “accelerated a cutting-corners mindset.”

Since 2011, Baltimore has paid out more than $13 million to settle lawsuits alleging police misconduct. In April, a federal judge approved a consent decree after a Justice Department report found a wide racial disparity in the way the Baltimore police treat citizens.

“The body-worn camera program was established to fight crime, better protect officers, and foster public trust. Whether planting evidence, re-enacting the seizure of evidence or prematurely turning off the department-issued body-worn camera, those actions misrepresent the truth and undermine public trust,” Mosby said in Monday’s statement.


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