Thirty-four criminal cases will be thrown out as authorities investigate three Baltimore police officers accused of planting evidence at crime scenes, officials announced Friday night.
"We had questions concerning their body worn camera videos".
Just a few weeks ago, the Baltimore Office of the Public Defender released a body cam that showed an officer, identified as Officer Richard Pinheiro, planting a bag of pills in an alleyway behind a suspect's house.
In the latest video, a group of at least seven officers are filmed at the scene of a drug bust searching a vehicle, but one of the body cameras can be seen being turned off and then back on.More news: Saudi Arabia to turn Red Sea coast into luxury resorts
"When the cameras come back on one officer is seen squatting by the driver's seat area. Right now, we are investigating the allegation that was brought forth by the Office of the Public Defender and the State's Attorney's Office", the department said.
Police said the video in question "involves two arrests and the recovery of drugs from a auto during a traffic stop", the Baltimore Sun said. "Shortly thereafter, another officer asks if the area by that compartment has been searched".
At a news conference Wednesday, Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Kevin Davis said he wasn't concerned that the video could jeopardize other cases. Later, another officer discovers narcotics in the auto.
The office said prosecutors in Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby's office dropped charges related to the video against one of their clients on Monday.More news: India blocks Fosun's Gland Pharma acquisition
Rothstein described the video to the Daily Beast, saying it shows "multiple officers searching a auto, including the front driver side area". Pinheiro, apparently unaware that the department's body cameras save footage from 30 seconds before officers hit record, set his body camera to begin recording video a few seconds later, after he planted the baggie but before he "discovered" it. Pinheiro was suspended, and two other officers seen in the video, Hovhannes Simonyan and Jamal Brunson, have been placed on desk duty. The case that was dismissed Monday involved seven officers, only two of whom were referred to Internal Affairs, the public defender's office says they were told by prosecutors. "We look forward to continuing the advancement and pursuit of justice for all".
"The lack of transparency to the public and refusal to disclose to the defense both prejudices defendants and violates the prosecutor's constitutional obligations", said Debbie Katz Levi, head of special litigation for the public defender's office, "Hundreds of individuals are awaiting trial on cases that rely on these officers, and hundreds more have likely been convicted based on their testimony".
The police union has urged caution in that case, warning against a rush to judgment prior to the conclusion of the multiple investigations.More news: ASEAN wants talks on nonaggression pact with China soonest
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