This Body-Cam Footage Confirms A Dark Suspicion People Have Cops

July 19th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

Investigations into police misconduct have begun in Baltimore, after body camera footage emerged that revealed officers manipulating drug evidence. The footage, recorded during a January arrest, shows an officer putting a soup can with a plastic bag in it into a trash filled lot. The officer then goes out to the street, turns his body camera on, says "I’m gonna go check here,” and retrieves the same soup can, containing a bag of drugs. Two other officers are seen in the video. 

The reason the initial planting was even discovered is because the cameras have a feature that save the thirty seconds of video (without audio) before an officer turns it on, according to the Baltimore Sun. 

People on social media tweeted their disgust at the video. 

While others tweeted that the video simply supported something they already suspected: that some police officers are able to plant evidence. 

As The NY Daily News reported, the man who was arrested in connection with the bag, Tyrone Jones, 27, had been unable to pay the $50,000 bail and was held in jail from January until last week, when the public defender's office brought the video to light, just before the trial. The charges were dismissed. Currently, Jones remains in jail, facing a parole violation hearing. 

As the Sun reported, the video is being investigated by the Baltimore Police Department's Internal Affairs. Attorney Deborah Levi, who is spearheading an effort to track police misconduct, said in a statement on behalf of the public defender's office that officers should not be allowed to turn their cameras on and off at all. The statement also noted that the officer who is seen handling the drugs in the video—identified as Officer Richard Pinheiro—is a witness in 53 additional active cases and the two other officers shown in the video are slated as witnesses in upcoming trials as well. 

“Officer misconduct has been a pervasive issue at the Baltimore Police Department, which is exacerbated by the lack of accountability.” Levi said in the statement. “We have long supported the use of police body cameras to help identify police misconduct, but such footage is meaningless if prosecutors continue to rely on these officers, especially if they do so without disclosing their bad acts.”

No one knows how often police officers plant evidence. 

While the study did not directly reveal the numbers of cases where evidence was planted, the National Registry of Exonerations at the University of Michigan Law School found that in 2015, 65 people were exonerated because of "official misconduct," which was a record number.  

And trials like that of Stephen Anderson, a former narcotics detective in the New York Police Department, who was caught planting evidence, further fuel the theory that planting evidence happens with disturbing frequency. In 2008, Anderson testified that it was common to plant drug evidence in order to make arrest quotas.  

"It was something I was seeing a lot of, whether it was from supervisors or undercovers and even investigators," he reportedly told a judge on the witness stand. 

RELATED: The Reason Black Lives Matter Isn't Just for Black People