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.


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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Oct 2017 @ 8:12pm

    Apple-Barrel-Rot

    The premise that one bad cop impugns all other cops is is a fallacy. That they cover up for other cops is not.

    I have no surprise that many prosecutions have been terminated due to the actions of one cop, caught on camera 'producing evidence'. The real conundrum is why other cops might condescend and affirm such actions.

    Their purpose is to 'protect and serve' though that is not actually written into any of their operating orders. That they feel it necessary to obfuscate due process to get their jobs done is a real dilemma. Doing their jobs correctly makes the results too hard to accomplish, but doing so with due process is their job.

    One needs to question what the 'job' as defined to the cops on the street is, as well as what it should be defined as.

    To some degree I blame the 'war on drugs, the war on terrorist, the war on whatever' as instigation to this mindset. These undefined, unwinnable wars are a significant problem when considering the mindset. Politicians have no problem in declaring 'wars' without considering the consequences. Look at the 'war' with North Korea, a 'police action' that has never been settled, and now...

    Do we need to get rid of the bad apples? No question, though a serious consideration needs to be taken as to whether the apple is actually bad or merely influenced due to lack of appropriate direction. That all apples are bad should be considered though the operational directions given. Individuals should not be claimed 'bad' until they are considered within their operations parameters. Then they should be given the benefit of the doubt, until something else proves them otherwise. Which will remove some, and others later.

    To assume all cops bad is a disservice to those that are good. That the good cops don't report the bad cops, one has to take into consideration the work environment. It would take a lot, including potential retribution, to come forward. One might be able to stand up to a perpetrator, but have difficulty in standing up to the daily abuse (if that is the the only outcome) should one 'rat' on a fellow officer.

    In my previous life operating hotels and restaurants we operated under the premise that good, bad, or indifferent, it was the managers fault. Why should it be any different in the public sector? That we look for bad apples rather than bad barrels is a significant question.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      mhajicek (profile), 5 Oct 2017 @ 10:46pm

      Re: Apple-Barrel-Rot

      A cop that fails to report a bad cop is also a bad cop.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 12:53am

      Re: Apple-Barrel-Rot

      "merely influenced due to lack of appropriate direction" - WTF?! Imagine crack dealer using this line: "Sorry, officer, I was merely influenced due to lack of appropriate direction" - he will be sentenced for using the joke of mass destruction.
      And this is so obviously false - they have the "appropriate direction". It is called "The Law". If they cannot understand that, they are at the wrong line of work.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 7:00am

      Re: Apple-Barrel-Rot

      "The premise that one bad cop impugns all other cops is is a fallacy."

      It may be true that other leos are not unduly influenced by said "bad cop" and then become bad themselves ... but, public perception of all leos is adversely affected when bad cops do their thing and therefore all leos are impugned - that's just the way it is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 8:16am

      Re: Apple-Barrel-Rot

      No question, though a serious consideration needs to be taken as to whether the apple is actually bad or merely influenced due to lack of appropriate direction.

      Yeah, right. We should consider if their environment suggests planting evidence and fosters a culture around it, rather than putting these pieces of shit in jail where they belong.

      More pathetic excuses for people that are put in a position of trust.

      It's what the faithful did for the catholic church while the priests were messing around with kids all those years. Only this time, it's the police.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 6 Oct 2017 @ 3:20pm

      Re: Apple-Barrel-Rot

      To assume all cops bad is a disservice to those that are good. That the good cops don't report the bad cops, one has to take into consideration the work environment. It would take a lot, including potential retribution, to come forward. One might be able to stand up to a perpetrator, but have difficulty in standing up to the daily abuse (if that is the the only outcome) should one 'rat' on a fellow officer.

      In two words: That's crap.

      I've no doubt that coming forth is likely to have consequences, corrupt cops don't like people ratting them out after all, but by staying silence they enable and encourage the corrupt cops to continue to abuse their power and authority to the detriment of the public, so as far as I'm concerned the 'good cops' are no better than the ones they could have tried to stop but refused to.

      By staying silent they may make their jobs easier, but they do so at the cost of the public, the public's perception of cops as a whole, and any chance they might have had to change things for the better, and they have no-one to blame but themselves and the corrupt cops who they are supporting.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sehlat (profile), 5 Oct 2017 @ 8:55pm

    From a Novel Published in 1960

    Any judge, anybody around the courts, anybody connected with the press, and maybe even some of the public knew that any police officer will swear to any lie to back up another police officer because he might need the favor returned tomorrow.

    Eight Keys to Eden by Mark Clifton

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 6 Oct 2017 @ 1:16am

    Well...

    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).

    Please allow me to reenact my impression of disbelief.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 8:01am

      Re: Well...

      Yep, my thinking as well. I'm still going with "planting evidence" on that one. Should have kept the body-cam on in the first place.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dadtaxi, 6 Oct 2017 @ 2:07am

    "performing an improvisational reenactment of "discovering" evidence"

    I do take issue with the wording here. Whilst he may not have been falsifying evidence by planting those drugs (having already been found), the actions he took in filming his "discovery" was not just a "improvisational re-enactment". It was in itself actually falsifying evidence

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 2:27am

    This has life-and-death consequences

    Crime rates in Baltimore have jumped in the past few years as a direct results of police misconduct. Everyone knows that the cops plant drugs. Everyone knows that the cops plant guns. Everyone knows that the cops harass people. Everyone knows that the cops beat people -- or in Baltimore slang, give them a "rough ride", which is how they murdered Freddie Gray. Everyone knows that the cops lie. Everyone knows that the cops will do anything to make their numbers. Everyone knows that the cops will let them die.

    Meanwhile, city "leadership", if I can dignify it with that term, keeps launching "initiatives" that are full of feel-good language...but will never explain, EXACTLY, how these are supposed to fix the problem.

    So now every night there are shootings, sometimes multiple shootings with multiple victims. The per capita murder rate is much higher than, for example, New York City's. And NOBODY wants to talk to the cops, because the most likely outcome of trying to furnish them information is either an arrest, a beating, and/or ongoing harassment.

    The cops don't care: they're not the ones dying. And their union backs them up no matter what they say or so. Most of them don't live in the city so they have no skin in the game: they collect their overtime checks, go home, and crack open a beer while the city bleeds out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daydream, 6 Oct 2017 @ 3:46am

    Do you suppose that the prosecutors actually mean it and they're pushing back against police corruption and supporting due process?

    Or do you suppose they're just doing it to make themselves look good to save themselves from being targeted by radicalised cop hunters?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 5:18am

    "No officer, we're not a drug dealers. Those four times you caught us sellings drugs were just incidents".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 6 Oct 2017 @ 8:01am

    Will these people be compensated for unjust jail time and psychological harm? I hope so.

    It's good to see this kind of thing happening. Law enforcement has to be reined in and reminded of their role and their obligations. And generally held to a much higher standard since they can destroy lives with their misconduct.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    oliver, 6 Oct 2017 @ 9:06am

    how quickly, in a matter of hours and not weeks, wiil these 338 cases be dismissed?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Matthew M Bennett, 6 Oct 2017 @ 11:18am

    WTF are you using the term "turned out to be" a "reenactment". That's what the cops are alleging, there's no particular reason to believe. It could be that, yes, but it also could not be, which is why all those cases are being thrown out.

    The correct term is "cops claimed to be a reenactment".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whoever, 6 Oct 2017 @ 2:44pm

    "One bad apple"

    How does that go again: One bad apple spoils the barrel.

    That's right. One bad cop spoils the whole department.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 5:45pm

    MyNameHere's not going to like this at all. Not one bit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ralph_the_bus_driver (profile), 7 Oct 2017 @ 7:24pm

    _italic_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._italic_

    It is still false evidence and perjury. Introducing false evidence knowingly IS framing someone.

    For those who forgot, OJ Simpson was found not guilty because the police were caught fabricating evidence. The worst part was that so many blamed Simpson instead of the police.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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