The ongoing saga surrounding the alleged planting of evidence by various Baltimore cops may just get a few more moments for the highlight reel.
According to the Baltimore Public Defender’s Office, in comments made to the Baltimore Sun, a body camera video recently made public “appears to depict multiple officers working together to manufacture evidence.”
The embarrassing turn of events comes, after a video released in mid July, appeared to show three Baltimore police officers planting drugs in order to frame a suspect. That suspect eventually ended up serving over six months in jail before being released upon discovery of the initial video.
Police Officer Richard Pinheiro, who took charge of the apparent evidence manufacturing, was suspended. His accomplices, Officers Hovhannes Simonyan and Jamal Brunson were placed on administrative duty for their alleged roles in the scheme.
Eventually, 34 cases relying on the testimony of the original three officers were dismissed and 77 are currently being reviewed by the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office. Twelve cases overseen by Pinheiro, Simonyan and Brunson have been cleared to move ahead based on independent evidence.
The newly unearthed footage has more than double the number of cops involved this go-round. And none of those seven alleged evidence manufacturers are members of the original gang of three.
One woman, Shamere Collins, 35, has already had charges against her dropped as a result of the new video surfacing.
The new video, consisting of multiple cops’ body camera footage, shows the seven officers thoroughly searching a car, finding nothing, turning their cameras off and then back on, and then miraculously discovering a bag of what appears to be drugs in the same area searched immediately prior. In a statement cited by the Sun‘s Kevin Rector, Collins said:
“Those drugs were not in that car when we were pulled out, the state dismissed the case against me and my attorneys are reviewing the tapes to see what steps to take next.”
Those steps include a probable lawsuit against the Baltimore Police Department.
So far, only two of the seven officers involved in the apparent planting of evidence have been referred to the departments’ Internal Affairs division. Prosecutors are now reviewing hundreds of cases linked to the seven officers in the new video.
The Baltimore Public Defender’s Office has declined to release the full video to the public citing confidentiality concerns. An edited version is available here.
[image via screengrab/Baltimore Sun; video courtesy CBS Baltimore]