July 19 (UPI) -- A Baltimore police officer was caught planting drugs with his own body camera, according to a public defender representing the person police had accused.
Baltimore prosecutors dropped charges against the suspect, who had been in jail since January because he was unable to post a $50,000 bond. The Baltimore Police Department has also launched an investigation and placed the officers involved on administrative leave.
The released video begins with no sound and supposedly shows the officer's hands putting a bag of white pills into a can and then placing the can under some rubble in an alleyway. The video then shows what appears to be the officers' hands activating his camera.
Later, the officer returns to the alley and appears to be looking under objects in the rubble before picking up the can and pulling out the bag of white pills.
The Baltimore Sun reported that police officer body cameras have a feature that saves 30 seconds of footage before activation is pressed.
"If you watch the video, objectively speaking, and slow it down, in the first five seconds, you can see the officer definitively place a can with something in it on the ground," said Deb Levi, the public defender who released the video, according to WBAL. "He then walks away, and then he walks into the alley and retrieves the can that appears that he has just placed down on the ground seconds earlier."
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the accusation that his police officers would plant drugs on a suspect is "as serious as it gets."
"I take it very seriously," he said. "Our Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating this matter."
The BPD held a press conference and released more body camera footage, including from the other officers on scene during the incident. Davis said it offers more perspective and that it's possible the officer accused of planting drugs was "re-creating" discovery of evidence but had found the drugs on the ground in a legitimate manner.
"It's certainly a possibility that we're looking into, to see if the officers in fact re-placed drugs that they had already discovered in order to document their discovery with their body-worn cameras on," he said.
"First impression, it doesn't look good. But that's not the complete investigation," added Lt. Gene Ryan. "There's going to be a lot more done to get to the bottom of what really happened."