Baltimore Officer Caught Planting Evidence Raises Questions About Body Cam Control

 A video recently surfaced, showing Baltimore Police Officer, Richard Pinheiro, planting “evidence” at a crime scene when his body cam was unknowingly filming.

Back in January, prior to “officially” searching for evidence, Pinheiro flanked by two fellow officers, planted a bag of heroin capsules in an alleyway.  He then returned to the street, to activate his body cam.  However, what he didn’t realize was that , although the camera wasn’t turned on yet, these cams can record up to 30 seconds before they are activated or turned on without sound. Because of this, the cam recorded what he did.

After planting the bag of pills as “evidence” he turned around and told his fellow officers, “let me look here!” Pinheiro pretended to rummage through the garbage and pulled the bag of pills out. He let the other officers know that he had found the drugs that the man “must have thrown in the garbage”. The suspect was arrested and held for months, awaiting trial.  

However, just recently, the public defender who represented the suspect unearthed the video, revealing it to the  state attorney’s office, who dismissed the charges.

The prosecutor’s office claimed to be sickened by the video.  However, Officer Pinheiro was then allowed to testify in another case the following week, and is an active witness in over 53 cases.  

The Baltimore Police Department is currently investigating this incident with Pinheiro. He has since been suspended from the force while the other two officers involved are on administrative leave. The BPD had this to say about the situation:

“We take allegations like this very seriously and that’s why we launched an internal investigation into the accusations. We are fortunate to have Body Worn Cameras which provide a perspective to the events as reported.”

However, despite claims of seriousness, it appears that the Baltimore PD is investigating with the belief that the discovery was re-staged simply because it was not videotaped during the initial discovery.  But this also opens the question as to why officers have discretion as to when the cameras should and shouldn’t be on.  

The Baltimore State Attorney’s Office has also announced plans to open up and investigate over 100 more cases that involve evidence using body cams and at least one of the three officers who were involved in the January 24th incident.

Fortunately, the miscarriage of justice in this situation was fixed but apparently body cams alone are not the answer.  It’s time to start considering further steps.  

– Clarissa Wilson


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