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Attorney: Police video shows 'staged recovery' of drugs

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Posted at 11:16 AM, Aug 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-03 07:00:38-04

It’s been two weeks and another video of Baltimore Police officer body-worn camera footage has surfaced, purportedly showing officers staging the recovery of drug evidence.

An attorney made the claim this week.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis addressed the video in a news conference on Wednesday where he said without context, the video is ‘ugly,’ but an investigation still needs to be conducted.

The body-worn camera sequence is lengthy.

There are more than a dozen clips sent to WMAR of Baltimore Police body-worn camera footage showing different perspectives of an arrest after an alleged drug deal in November.

In the video, officers stop a man and woman inside a silver sedan. The officers then confront the two about an alleged drug deal minutes earlier and proceed to search the car piece by piece for drugs.

Initially, the officers are unsuccessful and the body-worn cameras are turned off.

Then they’re turned on again, this time with officers successfully finding a bag of drugs in the car’s driver’s side.

“I think that’s a conclusion that we just can’t jump to because a camera is off. So while it’s ugly and while I’m disappointed that officers in these two incidents recently did not have their cameras on. I think it’s irresponsible to jump to a conclusion that the police officers were engaged in criminal misconduct,” Davis said.

 

Davis, just weeks ago, addressed body-worn camera protocol again after video surfaced, purportedly showing different officers planting drug evidence amid a search from a separate case in January. 

RELATED: Police commissioner forbids officers to recreate evidence

“In both of those cases, there’s no doubt that drugs were recovered and the recovery of those drugs was captured on body-worn camera,” Davis said at a news conference Wednesday.

The Office of Public Defender initially found the discrepancy in the video and then alerted the State’s Attorney’s Office.

“The lack of transparency to the public and refusal to disclose to the defense both prejudices defendants and violates the prosecutor’s constitutional obligations,” Deb Katz Levi, with the OPD, said in a statement.

The case was thrown out on Monday.

“Where these officer are material or necessary witnesses, we are dismissing those cases which rely exclusively on the credibility of those officers,” State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a news conference on July 28.

Prosecutors have dismissed 34 cases relying on three officers' testimony after the Office of the Public Defender released a different video it says shows an officer planting drugs.

RELATED: 34 cases dismissed because of police body cam video

The defense attorney for the woman, Shamere Collins, in the video says he and Collins are considering legal action against the police department.

“What we want to see is further reform. The body cameras have obviously been effective and they caught something a couple of weeks ago, the public defender’s office caught, and this is another chance where they caught it again,” Joshua Insley, Collins’ attorney, said.

Insley's client was arrested in November after police searched her car and recovered heroin and marijuana. Video clips released show an officer find a bag of alleged drugs a half hour after another officer's unsuccessful search.

On Tuesday, Davis sent a memo to his officers calling for their body-worn cameras to remain active until the officer leaves a scene.

Davis says now it’s important to wait for a completed investigation before making any judgement.

“Well if it was true, I’d stand up here and say it was true and I’ve been here long enough as police commissioner that you all have seen me, time and time again, condemn criminal misconduct by police officers – condemn it. But if I’m going to stay true to my word that I’m going to call balls and strikes. I’m not going to call something a strike that’s not a strike,” Davis said.

None of the officers in this investigation have been disciplined.

 

Insley says he and his client are waiting for the internal investigation to be completed before considering any legal action.