Officials in Baltimore, Maryland, on Friday publicly doubted the credibility of three police officers and announced that 34 criminal cases would be dropped, while adding more could be dismissed as the investigation into a controversial video that showed an officer apparently planting drugs at a crime scene continues.
Marilyn Mosby, the state’s attorney for Baltimore, said that more than 120 cases were under review after body cam footage from a January drug case surfaced earlier this month. The video appeared to show Officer Richard Pinheiro hiding a bag of capsules in a red can before planting it in a trash-filled yard. Two other officers, Hovhannes Simonyan and Jamal Brunson, witnessed Pinheiro hiding the drugs.
This clip from the body cam recording shows the moment Pinheiro hid the bag, with Simonyan and Brunson looking on:
Any case that relied solely on the testimony of the three officers would be dismissed, said Mosby. “The credibility of those officers has now been directly called into question,” she told reporters, according to The Baltimore Sun. “As I have stated before, it is incumbent upon us as prosecutors to be the ministers of justice, and to do what’s right in the pursuit of justice, over convictions, while simultaneously prioritizing public safety.”
The 34 cases that have been dismissed were all drug- or gun-related, reported The Associated Press. More than 70 cases were still under review, said Mosby. Because of “independent corroborative evidence,” 12 cases were given the green light to move forward, she said.
Since the release of Pinheiro’s body cam footage earlier this month, the officer has been suspended from the police department. The two other officers have been put on “non-public contact” administrative duty.
Baltimore police have been under increased public scrutiny in recent years since the 2015 in-custody death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray sparked mass protests and unrest in the city, drawing national attention to police conduct.