A Baltimore police officer wearing a body camera.
Juliet Linderman / AP
New video appears to show Baltimore police officers planting drugs inside a person's car, the local public defender's office said Monday — the second time in just weeks that police body-camera footage has resulted in the dropping of criminal charges.
In a video released last month, an officer can be seen placing a bag of pills under garbage in an alley. He walks out to the street and activates his camera, then returns to find the drugs.
On Monday, the Baltimore Office of the Public Defender said a series of other body-camera videos from another incident appeared to show similar actions.
Videos from multiple officers show the search of a car, including the driver's side. The officers then turned their body cameras off and reactivated them, the public defender's office said.
“When the cameras come back on one officer is seen squatting by the driver’s seat area. The group of officers then wait approximately 30 seconds,” the public defender's office said. “Shortly thereafter, another officer asks if the area by that compartment has been searched. Nobody responds, and the officer reaches in and locates a bag that appears to contain drugs right by where the prior officer was, and where the car had been thoroughly searched about a half an hour prior with absolutely no results.”
In the first case, a feature of the camera tripped up the officer's apparent scheme to plant evidence. Cameras capture silent footage from 30 seconds before officers turn them on — a feature aimed at showing what led up to a critical incident or use of force.
Videos of the second incident have not been publicly released, but the Baltimore Sun reported that criminal charges were dropped Monday in the case. An attorney representing the person apparently targeted did not immediately return a request for comment.
The Baltimore Police Department has launched internal affairs investigations into the two separate incidents. Police spokesperson T.J. Smith said the department takes allegations of misconduct seriously, and the officers are under investigation.
“The police department works closely with the Office of the Public Defender and the State's Attorney's Office,” he said. “Anytime an allegation of misconduct is made, we take it seriously and investigate it fully.”
Baltimore police outfitted 500 of its officers with body-worn cameras in response to Freddie Gray, a black man who died after being arrested and transported by officers. Local officials hoped to bring more accountability to the department, which protesters accused of using excessive force and unfairly targeting people because of race.