Colorado Cop Confesses To Staging Drug Bust For Body Camera
The increase of body cameras usage with police officers seemed to be hailed as unbiased look into incidents, but a case in Colorado raised more concerns about its practices after it was revealed that an officer faked body cam footage in a felony drug and weapons case.
According to The Pueblo Chieftain, charges against 36-year-old Joseph Cajar were dropped by the Pueblo district attorney's office on Thursday (May 4) after a cross examination showed the actions of officer Seth Jenson were beyond sketchy. Jenson came into contact with Cajar when he pulled him over for a traffic violation in Nov. 2016. Because Jenson didn't have proof of insurance or a driver's license, the car was towed.
Jenson's body camera footage showed a recovery of 6.8 grams of heroin, a Ruger .357 Magnum firearm, a pill bottle containing amphetamine residue and $43 from the vehicle, but text messages between the officer and deputy district attorney, Anne Mayer in March revealed his findings were actually reenacted so it could be seen on camera.
Mayer texted, “You’ll have to watch your body cam before the motions to make sure the report and camera are the same," with Jensen replying, “For the search, the body cam shows different than the report because it was. Prior to turning my body cam on I conducted the search. Once I found the (expletive referring to evidence), I stepped back, called (a fellow officer), then activated my body cam and walked the courts through it.”Mayer then replied, “Was that in the report? If not you’ve got to write a supplement explaining that your body cam was off during the search and that the body cam that does exist is a reenactment.”
Cajar was ultimately arrested for the findings and charged with possession with intent to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a weapon by a previous offender and special offender. After the case was dismissed, Joe Koncilja, Cajar's attorney, spoke out about Jenson's actions.
“Everyone is led to believe that the body camera footage actually represents in-time sequencing of events as they transpire,” he said. “This was concerning because all indications in the discovery and during his testimony at the preliminary hearing indicated that the body camera footage actually represented the sequence of events as they developed regarding the search. Furthermore, the staging was done in such a way to make it look like it was done in real-time.”
The Pueblo Police Department confirmed that an investigation was launched into Jenson's actions and if he violated any policies.