Baltimore Cop Caught Planting Drugs

By Victoria Kim 08/01/17

Three police officers are in hot water after recently surfaced body camera footage caught them in the act of framing a civilian.

cop placing white baggie of cocaine into an envelope

Officials in Baltimore, Maryland say they’ve dismissed dozens of criminal cases after a body camera video surfaced this month of a police officer planting drugs before making an arrest.

Baltimore’s State Attorney Marilyn Mosby said Friday (July 28) that 34 cases will be dismissed—with dozens more under review—since the officers' credibility has now been “called into question.”

Damning body camera footage preceding the January arrest of a drug suspect surfaced this month, causing havoc for the police department. In the video, Officer Richard Pinheiro is shown planting a soup can containing a baggie of white pills in a trash-filled lot, while two other officers, Hovhannes Simonyan and Jamal Brunson, look on.

After hiding the pills in the lot, Pinheiro then walks back toward the street, “appears to turn on his body camera,” and announces that he is going to check the alley. Then he returns to the lot and “discovers” the container of pills.

Apparently Pinheiro wasn’t aware that the body cameras record the 30 seconds right before they are turned on, without audio, according to the New York Times

As a result of the video, authorities dropped the charges against the drug suspect who was arrested for the pills, which included felony possession with intent to distribute drugs.

Pinheiro has been suspended from the Baltimore Police Department while Simonyan and Brunson have been put on administrative duty.

Mosby said Friday that any case that relied on the testimony of the three officers in question would be dropped. “As I have stated before, it is incumbent upon us as prosecutors to be the ministers of justice, and to do what’s right in the pursuit of justice, over convictions, while simultaneously prioritizing public safety,” she said. 

Officials are also investigating another body camera video that raises similar ethical questions from a different case, involving “two arrests and the recovery of drugs from a car during a traffic stop,” police say. 

A suspicious gap in the video appears right before police discover more drugs at the scene. Officials must now review hundreds of other videos the officers appear in. The police department’s division of Internal Affairs is now reviewing this case.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr