An officer from the Baltimore Police department accidentally recorded himself planting evidence. On Wednesday (July 19), Baltimore’s Fox 45 published footage of the officer hiding drugs at a crime scene without realizing that his body-worn camera caught him in the act.
In the recording, which was captured in January, officer Richard Pinheiro and two other officers, can be seen in an ally on the side of a house. The body camera appears to capture Pinheiro hiding a bag of pills under a heap of trash, while the two other officers stand behind him.
The cops head back to the sidewalk, at which point Pinheiro turns on his body camera. But as VOX notes, body cams can record up to 30 seconds of footage before being manually activated.
“I’m going to check here,” Pinheiro is heard telling the other officers before heading to the back of the house where he pretends to rummage through the trash heap. After a few second, he uncovers the bag and alerts the other officers.
Footage shows officer placing drugs in trash; goes out to street, turns on camera, returns. Cams save 30 sec prior to activation, w/o sound pic.twitter.com/5ZW128lWFM
— Justin Fenton (@justin_fenton) July 19, 2017
The defendant who was charged in the drug case was scheduled to go to trial this week. The charges were dropped after a public defender reviewed the body cam footage (a night before the trial was set to begin) and contacted the state prosecutor.
Prior to the charges being tossed, the defendant was offered a plea deal. According to Buzzfeed, the Baltimore State Attorney’s office had possession of the video when the plea deal was offered, though it is unclear if the footage had been reviewed at the time.
Despite being “appalled” by the video, prosecutors called Pinheiro to testify as a witness in a separate case.
“They watched it and were appalled by what was on the video, and then for whatever reason made the choice to continue to call him as a witness,” Public Defender Debbie Katz Levi told Fox 45.
The Baltimore Police Department is investigating the incident. In the meantime, one officer has been suspended while the other two are on administrative leave.
“We take allegations like this very seriously and that’s why we launched an internal investigation into the accusations,” the BPD said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have Body Worn Cameras which provide a perspective of the events as reported.”