BALTIMORE (WJZ) — New revelations in the scandal surrounding body camera video, and whether Baltimore Police Department officers planted evidence.
Outraged defense attorneys are blasting prosecutors and police, claiming they failed to disclose key information.
It involves a traffic stop, where officers are under investigation for possibly tampering with evidence, and it may not stop there.
As this case was heating up, the officer believed the questionable video was about to be exposed to the public, so he wrote a memo to top police brass.
The public defender’s office says it’s an example of broken justice in Baltimore.
“Everybody in the state’s attorney’s office and in the police department is going to have a real hard time coming forward and saving face,” said Debbie Katz Levi, with the Baltimore Public Defender’s Office.
Katz Levi is fed up with what she says are road blocks from police and prosecutors, as officers have come under fire for planting evidence.
“It’s all of these internal affairs records that are kept secret, that let’s it grow without repercussions,” she said.
The latest example involves a drug case last November. An officer is now explaining his actions on why police turned off body cameras, only to turn them back on just before finding drugs.
The internal police memorandum from the officer is dated July 25, almost seven months after the incident.
He says he wrote it after deputy state’s attorney Jan Bledsoe asked prosecutors to flag his cases, and believing the video was going public.
“Unsure of the intentions of Ms. Bledsoe, or the public defender’s office, I wanted to make my command and the department aware,” he wrote.
The officer says, back in April, he “called and spoke to an assistant state’s attorney” who had “expressed concerns with the footage,” and that his explanation then “satisfied” that prosecutor.
His explanation was that he was remotely advising officers searching a car, and when they couldn’t find the drugs, they turned off their body cameras.
He advised them to do a more thorough search, and went to the car himself, explaining, “I illuminated the steering wheel/driver’s side floor area with my flashlight, where I observed the black bag wedged under the steering column, and another officer activated his body-worn camera and retrieved the bag, which did contain a large amount of suspected [drugs].”
Defense attorneys say they were never notified of the memo.
“Except for what was handed to me today, in paper form, by yourself, I have never gotten a copy, and neither has the assistant public defender, Janet Anderson, whose case that was,” Katz Levi said.
The state’s attorney’s office issued a statement, saying when their attorneys are alarmed by officer behavior, they are instructed to refer the matter to internal affairs, and that’s what happened in this case.
No comment from police on Thursday.
The officers being investigated are not currently charged with any wrongdoing, and remain on the job.