The Baltimore police officer who was caught on his body camera planting drugs at a supposed crime scene has been indicted for evidence tampering, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Maryland prosecutor Marilyn Mosby announced the indictment of Officer Richard A. Pinheiro Jr. by a grand jury for misconduct and the fabrication of evidence in the case which drew widespread attention when it was first revealed last year. The video in question shows Officer Pinheiro placing a bag of pills under an empty soup can in a trash-filled alley before turning around, turning his body camera on, and then pretending to “discover” the drugs.
The police officer’s body camera was turned off when he actually took the deceitful action, but because the camera automatically records the prior 30 seconds of footage after it is activated, Officer Pinheiro was unwittingly caught in the act of planting the drugs.
The incriminating footage was discovered by the public defender assigned to represent the man arrested in the case for possession of drugs. The lawyer reviewed the footage just in the nick of time as his client was about to accept a plea deal in the case after spending more than six months in jail in the case because he was unable to raise the $50,000 bail the judge had imposed. The charges against the suspect were dropped once the body camera footage was discovered, but he can never recover the six months of his life spent in detention.
Officer Pinheiro faces a three year imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine for the evidence fabrication charges and an uncertain penalty for the misconduct charge. Meanwhile, Baltimore police will be facing some serious questions about the 53 active cases in which Officer Pinheiros is scheduled to be a witness for the prosecution. They may be facing some serious credibility issues in prosecuting the cases going forward.