BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A grand jury has indicted a Baltimore Police Department officer in connection with a body camera video that the public defender’s office said showed him planting drugs.
Officer Richard A. Pinheiro Jr. was indicted on charges of tampering with evidence and misconduct in officer, the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
This case goes back to bodycam video that appeared to show an officer putting drugs in a can, before walking to the street – and only then does he turn on his camera.
That portion of video was caught on body camera footage because the body camera records video 30 seconds before it’s turned on.
Prosecutors also declined to charge three officers with a criminal offense in a separate incident from June 17, 2017. This case involved a traffic stop, where officers were under investigation for possibly tampering with evidence.
At the time the June body camera was made public, then police Commissioner Kevin Davis stood by his officers in August of 2017.
“This one is not certainly not planting evidence,” Davis said.
The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office said, “the State has concluded after a thorough investigation there is insufficient evidence to support the notion that Officer #1 wrongfully tried to create fraudulent BWC video.”
Public defender Deborah Katz Levi told WJZ Pinheiro’s indictment doesn’t come as a surprise.
“We were shocked at the lack of transparency leading up to the indictment,” Levi said.
She says “the lack of full transparency is potentially putting cases in jeopardy.”
“We’re concerned that cases are falling through the cracks,” she said.
Levi says her office is still flagging questionable police worn body camera.
The Baltimore Police Department released the following statement:
“We were made aware of charges in this case earlier today. The officer in question has been suspended since the incident occurred. At that time, we made changes to our Body Worn Camera policy in order to ensure a clear understanding of when and how long the body worn camera should be activated. In short, officers must keep their cameras on from the beginning of an event until that event is over and they have left the scene to ensure that if any additional police actions take place they are captured on the cameras.”