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Public Defenders: Body Cam Footage Shows Officer Planting Drugs

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The Office of the Public Defender has released body cam video they say shows a Baltimore officer planting drugs that resulted in an arrest.

The 90 seconds of body camera video has police investigating their own, but police officials say there is more to this story than a short video clip showing officers handling drugs.

They have released more video to back up their claims as they continue to investigate these serious allegations.

The footage in a Baltimore alley is clear, as it was recorded on police body cameras, but the reason why the Baltimore police officer appears to be planting drugs is not.

"What we think we see, and if you slow down the video especially in the first five seconds, the officer appearing to place a red can underneath some trash, push the fence up, and hide it," said public defender Debbie Katz Levi.

Caught on camera in January, but not discovered by a public defender in Levi's office until this month.

She says the alleged act of planting drugs was caught because Baltimore police body cameras capture the 30 seconds before an officer actually hits the record button, but without audio.

When the sound does kick on.

"He then walks down the alley and miraculously goes to the same space where he appeared to have just planted the can with the suspected narcotics," she said.

Wednesday, police fired back with extended footage tied to the same drug arrest.

It shows police searching the same southwest Baltimore yard minutes before, and finding another bag of suspected heroin.

Police are investigating if the officer planted the second set of drugs there or if he was recreating the discovery when his body camera was rolling.

"It's certainly a possibility that we're looking into, to see if the officers, in fact, replaced drugs that they had already discovered to document the discovery with their body worn cameras on," said Baltimore PD Commissioner Kevin Davis.

Unanswered questions that could trickle down to other criminal cases on the court docket, as the officer in question is a witness in more than 50 other cases.

"[Reporter: Are you concerned that the public defenders office is saying this could compromise police work in 53 other cases?]

"No, I'm not concerned," Davis said. "Obviously, we're going to partner with them and look into those other cases."

Following the discovery of the video, one officer has been suspended.

Two others are on desk duty while the Office of Professional Responsibility investigates.

The man arrested on drug charges tied to the video was set for trial last week, the State's Attorney's Office dropped the case.

The Office of the State's Attorney For Baltimore City released the following statement:

"Three months ago in April, discovery was provided to the defense attorney which included the body worn camera footage in question. Upon initial evaluation of the case, the ASA conveyed an offer for a plea to one count of possession of a controlled dangerous substance due to the (1) pill of heroin found on the defendant's person. Two days before the trial date at 11:00pm, the defense attorney made the ASA aware of his concerns regarding the body worn camera footage and the ASA immediately took the proper steps to notify his supervisor and dismiss the case.  Upon notification of this troubling footage, our office immediately implemented established protocols to not only refer this matter to the internal affairs division of the Baltimore Police Department but began identifying active cases involving these officers."

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