Hundreds Of Cases Dismissed Thanks To Baltimore PD Misconduct
from the perp-walkers dept
After years of listening to tough-on-crime legislators and the tough-on-crime lawmen that love to hear them talk about filthy criminals beating the system by getting off on technicalities, it’s somewhat funny to discover lots of what’s complained about is nothing more than good old-fashioned due process and/or the collateral damage of crooked, inept, or lazy cops.
We’ve seen a lot of en masse criminal case dismissals recently. Thousands of convictions and charges were dropped in Massachusetts as the result of a state crime lab tech’s years of faked drug tests. All over the nation, cops are letting perps walk rather than discuss law enforcement’s worst-kept secret: Stingray devices.
Add to that list several hundred cases being dropped by prosecutors in Baltimore — all thanks to officer misconduct. [via Scott Shackford at Reason]
Hundreds of criminal cases are impacted by the questionable conduct of Baltimore police officers, the city’s top prosecutor announced in a statement.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby’s office released the updated numbers Wednesday. She said the actions of eight officers indicted for racketeering have affected 295 cases, and three more incidents of questionable use of body-worn cameras have impacted a total of 569 cases. Overall, she said up to 338 cases have been or could be dismissed.
The body camera footage at issue was discussed here earlier. What looked like an officer planting evidence turned out to be an officer performing an improvisational reenactment of “discovering” evidence he had actually discovered earlier (but without his body camera turned on). While less malicious than framing someone, the end result is no less questionable: a cop stuffing drugs into an object for recorded “discovery” later. Either way, it’s something no cop should be doing, especially when they’re wearing body cameras they can activate at any time.
The numbers of dismissals will likely continue to grow. Moby’s office counts up to 338 possible dismissals so far, but characterizes these totals as “preliminary.” The Baltimore PD, however, is spinning these dismissals in a different — but wholly expected — direction. While promising to “work to address the concerns” raised by the racketeering and footage-faking, police spokesman T.J. Smith claims these multiple cases of footage manipulation (there are four in total) are not indicative of larger, unaddressed problems with officer accountability.
Smith pointed out the importance of separating the four incidents, as they are “unique and independent of each other,” adding that while eight officers are in federal prison for their criminal conduct, “the cases involving body-worn camera footage is still being investigated and no criminal wrongdoing has been proven.”
Well, “unique” and “independent” except for the fact they all involved members of the Baltimore PD. Only a fool (or a police union spokesman) would believe these are the only times Baltimore officers have massaged camera footage and that the hundreds of cases edging towards dismissal will be the end of the prosecutorial bleeding. Misconduct of this type — especially misuse of recording equipment — tends to be a department-wide problem, rather than a few “bad apples” rising to the top of the barrel to be plucked and tossed by prosecutors.