A grand jury has indicted a Baltimore Police officer on expenses of misconduct and fabricating proof in reference to a physique digital camera video that surfaced final yr that the general public defender’s workplace mentioned confirmed him planting medicine.
Officer Richard A. Pinheiro Jr., 29, was charged Tuesday, the Baltimore State’s Lawyer’s Workplace mentioned.
Prosecutors mentioned the indictment “stems from alleged questionable proof gathering acts captured on physique worn digital camera footage on January, 24 2017.”
“As State’s Lawyer, I’ve made a pledge to use one customary of justice for all. It’s vital we stay clear all through the method to the extent the regulation permits as we proceed to rebuild group belief,” State’s Lawyer Marilyn Mosby mentioned in a press release. “Yesterday’s indictment is one other instance of our workplace making use of justice pretty and equally.”
Pinheiro’s lawyer, Michael Davey, mentioned he simply discovered of the indictment Wednesday afternoon and was working to collect extra info. He didn’t instantly touch upon the case.
The video was one of many three that surfaced in the summertime of 2017 that protection attorneys mentioned depicted questionable exercise. In asserting Pinheiro’s indictment, prosecutors additionally mentioned they’d cleared three officers concerned in a second video. Former Commissioner Kevin Davis had forcefully defended these officers on the time, publicly clashing with Mosby.
“The State has concluded after an intensive investigation there may be inadequate proof to assist the notion that [those officers] wrongfully tried to create fraudulent BWC video,” prosecutors mentioned.
Pinheiro’s video, which garnered nationwide consideration after it was launched by the general public defender’s workplace in July, reveals the officer putting a soup can right into a trash-strewn lot.
That portion of the footage was recorded routinely, earlier than the officer activated the digital camera. Police physique cameras have a characteristic that saves the 30 seconds of video earlier than activation, however with out audio.
After putting the can down, the officer walks to the road, and flips his digital camera on.
“I’m gonna go verify right here,” the officer says. He returns to the lot and picks up the soup can, eradicating a plastic bag crammed with white capsules.
The general public defender’s workplace flagged the video for prosecutors, prompting them to drop the heroin possession cost in opposition to the person arrested. He had been held for greater than six months, unable to publish $50,000 bail.
Officers are supposed to start out recording “on the initiation of a name for service or different exercise or encounter that’s investigative or enforcement-related in nature,” and through another confrontational encounters, in response to the police division’s physique digital camera coverage. They will additionally cease recording beneath sure circumstances, akin to when civilians request to not be recorded in encounters with officers and through exchanges with confidential informants.
Davis mentioned final yr that officers had been “reluctant” to correctly use cameras, a program the town invested tens of millions of in to foster accountability, however enhancements have been being made.
Police and prosecutors clashed over the second video, which confirmed an officer discovering medicine in a cigarillo bag together with his physique digital camera not activated. The officer will be seen within the footage placing down the bag, turning on his digital camera, and choosing the bag up once more — a sequence that spans about 20 seconds. Davis mentioned one other officer’s digital camera had documented what the primary officer’s digital camera didn’t.
That footage, from a June 2017 arrest, got here to gentle when one of many officers concerned — conscious of the current controversies relating to physique cameras — notified the division himself.
In a report launched together with the announcement of expenses in opposition to Pinheiro, prosecutors mentioned within the June incident “there was no precise fabrication or tampering with proof on this case” and mentioned “the overwhelming weight of the proof is extra in step with an error of judgment by the concerned officers.”
Mosby mentioned final yr the truth that the officer flagged the video “doesn’t negate the truth that he re-created what he really discovered. That goes on to his credibility, and had it not been for that 30 seconds of pre-recording, we would not have identified.”
“This can’t be the face of policing in Baltimore Metropolis,” Mosby mentioned. “It undermines public belief and creates indefensible doubts within the minds of most people, judges and jurors.”
However Davis responded on the time there was “nothing questionable” about that incident.
“The officers did precisely what I and the group count on of them: to exit and make authorized arrests primarily based on sound possible trigger,” Davis mentioned. “I can’t be a bystander when my law enforcement officials are doing what I and my commanders count on them to do on this crime combat.”
Police mentioned on the time that they might not pull the officers concerned from the streets, whereas Mosby mentioned her workplace was contemplating reinstating a “don’t name” checklist of officers with credibility points whose instances gained’t be taken by prosecutors, a flash level between former directors that was carried out away with in 2011.
A 3rd video stays beneath investigation, prosecutors mentioned.
Considered on their very own, all three BWC movies from the concerned officers present your complete sequence of related occasions from when Officer #1 first found the package deal of litter containing the medicine, to when he put it again ,turned on his BWC, after which picked it up a second time,” prosecutors mentioned. “This confirms that the acts on the video have been simply the restoration of medication and there may be nothing false or fraudulent within the BWC movies that may deceive or mislead an affordable particular person. Subsequently, the police officer’s actions on this case didn’t rise to a stage of prison culpability. Furthermore, Officer #1 self-reported his conduct to a superior officer.”
With Tim Prudente