The city of Baltimore is still trying to sort out what to do after a video showed an officer planting drugs for an arrest. Before they can get to that, they need to figure out what to do about another video of a cop doing the exact same thing to someone else.
NBC News reports that two officers have been referred to Internal Affairs and five cases have been thrown out because of their actions. The case that led to this discovery was one of the five, where Shamere Collins, 35, was arrested for drug possession in November 2016.
“I think they put something in my car,” Collins told NBC.
Officers reportedly pulled Collins over and told her they smelled marijuana. This is when the body camera footage shows one officer kneeling next to the car. After he gets up, another officer comes to the exact same spot and finds a bag believed to contain narcotics.
Due to the actions of this handful of officers who were caught plating evidence, dismiss 41 cases either have been or are already set to be dismissed, 55 are under review and 27 are still considered viable.
Officials in the Baltimore Police Department are claiming that the officers in both cases did nothing illegal. Instead, they presented the possibility that the officers were re-enacting perfectly legitimate arrests made moments before while their body cameras weren’t turned on.
“It would be premature of me to stand in front of you and reach a conclusion as to exactly what happened,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis. “But I do know that it’s not healthy to jump to a conclusion that police officers did something criminal.”
“In both of these cases, it’s no doubt that drugs were recovered and the recovery of those drugs were captured on body-worn cameras. There’s no doubt that that took place in either case. There’s no doubt that probable cause existed for arrest.”
Davis’ quick dismissal of the charges were harshly criticized by members of the public who find it perfectly reasonable to suspect officers of planting drugs for arrests.
“Let’s wait to see all the evidence before charging someone with felonies that carry 20 years in prison,” said Debbie Katz Levi, who leads the litigation department for the city’s public defender’s office. “What is the excuse for them rushing to judgment, and then looking backward and dropping charges seven months later?”
Baltimore’s police department was found found to have engaged in “in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution or federal law” following a Department of Justice investigation just last year. These instances don’t help move it past that negative perception by any means.