Tag Archives: drug possession

Second Body Cam Video of Baltimore Police Planting Drugs Then “Finding” Them Has Surfaced

Baltimore Police Department Planting Drugs Video

For the second time in a matter of weeks, body camera footage has been released showing officers from the Baltimore Police Department planting drugs. In both videos, the planting of that evidence was exposed by a feature of the body cams that causes them to begin saving video thirty seconds prior to the point where they are manually activated. This video is from November 2016, while the earlier one dates from January of this year.

In this latest video to surface, police were conducting a traffic stop in which they were profiling drivers in an effort to make drug arrests. After claiming to have seen the passenger in Shamere Collins’ vehicle making a drug sale, the police stopped them. However, after a thorough search, no drugs were found anywhere in the car.

The body cam video of that initial search includes audio of one officer stating that there would be “negative consequences” if they didn’t find drugs and thereby couldn’t arrest someone. After that, the cops for no apparent reason all turned their body cameras off.

What followed, according to CBS News.com:

When the cameras come back on, an officer is seen squatting by the driver’s side of the suspect’s car, apparently unaware that he’s being recorded.

He then stands up and steps back. About 30 seconds pass, and another officer approaches the car, then squats down and pulls out a bag of drugs.

Although the charges were thrown out once the public defender representing her got ahold of this video, Collins and her boyfriend, who was the passenger were charged with possession of opiates and marijuana, as a result. According to Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, dozens more cases that involve this group of officers could also be thrown out.

Meanwhile, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis maintained that this is no reason for the public to “jump to conclusions” or make “heavy allegations” about police misconduct based on the video. Because concluding that something suspicious was going on after all the cops turned their cameras off right after one of them expressed concerns about getting in trouble if they didn’t find any drugs to justify an arrest, then video (that the cops didn’t expect to be recorded) showing one cop crouching next to the car, followed by body cam video (that they did expect to be recorded) of a different cop easily finding drugs in that same area after it had already been thoroughly searched is quite a jump.

Of course, this also comes on the heals of the previously released video (embedded below), which is even more damning. In that video, Officer Richard Pinheiro can be clearly seen putting a bag inside a can on a pile of debris in an alley. He then walks back out to the street, accompanied by two other officers who have not been named.

After activating the camera, he proceeds to walk back down the alley as one of the unnamed officers can be heard laughing behind him. Miraculously, he manages to quickly zero in on the can shortly after searching through the debris pile. He then pulls out the bag that he unwittingly recorded himself planting to reveal that it is filled with pills.

The man who was arrested as a result spent over seven months in jail awaiting trial before this video was made public and his charges were thrown out. So far, thirty-four other cases have also been thrown out and as many as fifty-five more could be, as well. Officer Pinheiro was (only) suspended for his actions, while the two other officers that watched (and laughed) as he planted evidence have received no punishment at all.

Not Isolated Incidents

These incidents don’t represent the only times that the Baltimore police have been under scrutiny for manufacturing evidence and manipulating body cameras. In March, all seven members of an “elite task force” that targets illegal weapons and drug crimes were indicted on racketeering charges for robberies that included completely innocent people of cash and filing false paperwork to get paid for overtime they didn’t actually work. In the process, they also falsified search warrants to justify detentions and traffic stops against their intended targets. As they were performing these “shake downs,” officers were known to have turned off their body cameras.

Nor is this the first confirmed instance of body camera footage being falsified to show police finding evidence against suspects. In May of this year, charges were dropped against a man in Colorado after a cop in Pueblo admitted he staged a video of himself  finding heroin and a gun in his car. In that case, Officer Seth Jensen claimed that he was merely “reenacting” his legitimate discovery of the evidence.

An “Unintended Consequence” of Transparency?

Given all of that, it’s rather interesting that in the CBS News video embedded below (beginning at about 3:45) correspondent Jeff Pegues characterizes the issue as a “downside of video transparency” and an “unintended consequence” of police wearing body cameras. Apparently, on his planet these type of incidents aren’t an argument for increased scrutiny and transparency, but rather a problem for “police departments that have to defend themselves against this type of policing.”

Obviously, I can’t see any reason we shouldn’t just trust these cops and accept their word. It would be crazy if cops didn’t have the ability to freely plant evidence without being detected and police departments had no incentive to eliminate “this type of policing.” That freedom to just arrest whoever they want and make up a reason undoubtedly would make their tough jobs so much easier.

Watch him throw it into the floorboards

BPD Officer Richard Pinheiro planting drugs

CBS News coverage of  the latest incident:

Harris County Sheriff’s Office Drops Drug Charges Against Texas Man After “Meth” Turns Out to be Cat Litter

A sock full of cat litter ended up leading to a Texas man being publicly branded as a drug dealer, when deputies with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office managed to mistake it for meth. In yet another case of faulty field tests that have repeatedly been exposed as wildly inaccurate, police issued a press release and bragged on Facebook about how their “big drug bust” had kept everyone’s children save from the scourge of methamphetamines.

Meanwhile, Ross Lebeau was taken to jail on charges of drug possession with the intent to distribute, based on the “meth” weighing in at over half a pound. As a result, he lost work and will be forced to go through the process of having his record expunged, even though the charges were dropped, to avoid the stigma of having been identified, very publicly, as a drug dealer.

In spite of that, Lebeau is surprisingly unwilling to place any blame on the deputies who used notoriously innacurate equipment to declare the cat litter was an illegal substance. For their part, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office released a second press release, in which they had no problem whatsoever placing the blame squarely on Lebeau’s shoulders saying that the deputies did everything right and that his statement that he didn’t know what the “unknown substance” was is what was responsible for the mix-up.

Via ABC13.com (in Houston):

Lebeau and his attorney do not blame the deputies for the ordeal, rather the field tests.

“Ultimately it might be bad budget-cutting testing equipment they need to re-evaluate,” said George Reul, who added prosecutors practically laughed when he told them it was cat litter.

“I would like an apology,” said Lebeau.

He says the accusation has caused him to lose work, not to mention the embarrassment. He will work to expunge his record.

“I was wrongly accused and I’m going to do everything in my power, with my family’s backing, to clear my name,” he said.

Harris County Sheriff’s Office Statement:
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped Mr. LeBeau for a traffic offense on December 5, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. During that initial stop the deputies detected a strong odor of Marijuana emitting from his vehicle. Mr. LeBeau was question and admitted to having marijuana in the console of his vehicle.

The drugs were recovered and in the process of inventorying his vehicle a substance was found wrapped in one sock in his vehicle. Mr. LeBeau was questioned about the contents at which time he indicated that he had no idea what it was. The deputies followed proper procedures and field tested the substance on two separate occasions which field tested positive for methamphetamines, notified the District Attorney’s Office who accepted charges for possession of controlled substance of 200 grams and Mr. LeBeau posted bond and was released.

During the investigation Mr. LeBeau failed to identify the substance and later, after being released indicated on social media that the substance was cat litter that he kept in a sock in his vehicle.

Regarding this incident all indication shows that the deputies followed basic procedures and followed established protocol related to this incident. Because of the established procedures in place and this contraband was submitted to the Institute of Forensic Science it was determined not to be methamphetamine and charges were dismissed.

It doesn’t look like he’s going to get that apology. At least the prosecutors were able to get a good laugh out of it.

That “Good Cop” Who Bullied a TX Teen Into Doing Push-Ups Couldn’t Have Arrested Him For Pot Possession If He’d Wanted To

Officer Eric Ball of the Arlington Police Department has been getting praised pretty heavily as the latest internet sperstar with a badge and a heart of gold. The story goes that he “allowed” a teen to humiliate himself publicly by doing 200 push-ups rather than get arrested after the teen was reported to have been smoking marijuana near a movie theater.

Just one example of the glowing praise Ball has been receiving, via NBC4i.com:

Arlington police officer Eric Ball is getting a lot of attention after he caught a teen smoking weed.

It’s what he did after that’s receiving a lot of praise.

“One thing that my department pushes is for us to have compassion, and kind of think outside the box,” Ball said.

Ball was working another job at a movie theater when someone told him a man was smoking marijuana near the entrance. He told the person to come over, and saw him drop something.

“He said he had been smoking marijuana, but it wasn’t a usable amount. I just wanted to kinda teach him a lesson, to use that situation as a learning tool.”

Ball gave the teen a choice.

“He was real respectful. So I told him you have two options: he could go to jail or he could give me 200 push ups.”

So, the teen dropped to the concrete, and a passerby filmed it for Facebook. 

The young man told Ball he learned his lesson.

Later, the teen’s mom came out looking for the officer.

“She actually thought I was nice because I only made him do 200,” Ball said. “She said he should’ve done 1,000.”

And of course, as mentioned in the article, a bystander made sure to film it and post the footage to Facebook so there was a record of the kid’s humiliation and the cop’s heroics:

Except there’s one problem with all this glowing praise and all the accompanying taunts about the unnamed teen having to resort to doing “girl’s push-ups” in order to complete his “merciful” punishment. Most of it is based on the assumption that this teen would have been facing drug possession charges and would have been hauled off to jail with his life ruined, as a result.

The reality is that, at worst, he would have been facing a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia and a fine. He also likely would be offered a deferment, meaning the conviction would be sealed and wouldn’t show up on his record. Officer Ball even states in the article above in regard to the “drug” he caught the teen with, “…but it wasn’t a usable amount.” The reason he made that distinction is because under Texas law “the State has the burden to prove that the defendant knowingly or intentionally possessed a usable quantity of marijuana.

Even a paraphernalia charge would be a bit of a stretch. The description that Bell saw him drop something, which turned out to not even be enough to qualify as a usable amount, implies that the “paraphernalia” would have been a tiny piece of rolling paper. Based on the described demeanor of this teen (and his mother), the Arlington Police Department and prosecutors could probably have railroaded him into pleading guilty on such a charge. But would it even be worth the effort?

Before the Arlington PD public relations crew got ahold of it, the amazing feel good story would have actually sounded a lot more like:

“Texas cop working side job decides writing citation that likely would have gotten thrown out anyway isn’t worth the trouble, bullies teen into doing push-ups, instead.”

(Of course, we haven’t even gotten into whether someone should be “taught a lesson” for smoking a completely harmless substance that shouldn’t even be illegal in the first place. Depending on the teen’s age, it could potentially be a parental issue, but outside of that, this teen doesn’t sound like much of a threat to society even if he’s openly risking the Reefer Madness.)

West Virginia Sheriff Candidate Arrested After Repeatedly Overdosing on Heroin

Is That You John Wayne?

That’s one theory (that I just made up) for how the conversation went when West Virginia State Police Cpl. M.D. Gillmore realized who the man reportedly suffering a heroin overdose actually was in an early morning call that he and Trooper M.C. Morgan had been dispatched to.

It turned out that not only was it Berkeley County (WV) Sheriff Candidate and 10 year law enforcement veteran John Wayne Orem, but it was also the second time he had overdosed within a 12 hour period. Although it’s the policy in Berkeley County to send police along with EMS in cases where there is an overdose, in case they survive and need to be arrested, they hadn’t actually been notified of an incident the previous night in which Orem had also OD’ed.

On both occasions, paramedics were forced to administer Narcan, a medication that counteracts the effects of narcotics to Orem to keep him from dying. If  video of that exists it hasn’t been released publicly, but it probably went something like this.

As a result of this second overdose, Potential Sheriff Orem was in fact arrested on possession charges, although there is some dispute between him and pretty much everyone else in West Virginia about what exactly happened.

Via HeraldMailMedia.com:

Orem, 47, of Inwood, W.Va., was arraigned on one misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance Tuesday morning by Berkeley County Magistrate Harry L. Snow, records said.

Orem, who was released from custody after posting bail for a $5,000 bond, did not comment about his arrest as he was leaving the Berkeley County Judicial Center other than to say he would release a “clear and concise” statement of what happened later Tuesday.

 “It’s no where, no where close to what it seems like,” Orem said.

No further statements by Orem had been received by Herald-Mail Media as of 8 p.m. Tuesday.

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Orem was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor of his Harold Drive home Tuesday morning, according to a complaint filed by West Virginia State Police Cpl. M.D. Gillmore.

An EMS official told the trooper that Orem had been administered Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of narcotics, on Tuesday morning and about 11 p.m., Monday night, during separate responses by medics.

Gillmore said a cotton ball found in a metal spoon, which was located in a bathroom cabinet, later field-tested positive for heroin, records said.

The spoon appeared to have a white substance on it and burn marks on the bottom, records said.

Gillmore said he also recovered a plastic bag which appeared similar to bags commonly used to contain narcotics, in the toilet next to where Orem was laying, records said.

A loose shoelace also was spotted on the bathroom countertop, records said.

As of right now, Orem has made no announcement about whether he will withdraw from the race for sheriff (or sent that “clear and concise” statement) and there is no legal requirement for him to do so. This might probably kinda hurt his campaign a bit, though. (#JusSayin)

State Senator Craig Blair weighed in on the subject, encouraging Orem to drop out and sending thoughts and prayers:

“To me, it’s an indication of how serious the epidemic when a candidate for a law-enforcement office in the second-largest county in the state is addicted to drugs,” Blair said. “We absolutely must address this issue, and we cannot delay. We are losing a generation of West Virginians to this widespread affliction, and our state’s legacy and our youth deserve more. My thoughts and prayers are with John and his family in coming weeks as they deal with getting him the treatment he needs.”

I couldn’t agree more with Sen. Blair that John should get help and that the form of that help should be focused on treatment, rather than punishment, for what is really a mental health issue. However, I think it says a lot about the mindset of law enforcement that a person who is clearly out of control and in need of that help aspired to be the head of the second largest county in the state of Virginia and participate in a system that makes that treatment harder to get (for those not employed in law enforcement) with subjecting oneself to jail or prison time (where drugs are readily available).

I guarantee you that had he been elected prior to his meltdown he wouldn’t have shifted the emphasis of the Berkeley County Sheriff Department’s response to addicts from sending heavily armed men with a tendency to inflict violence to smash their doors down in the middle of the night to that of the medical and psychological treatment that they actually need.

Minnesota Cop Caught Stealing From Kids’ Holiday Toy Drive And Drugs From County Drop Box

Deputy Travis Sebring definitely has to be the front runner for Police Officer of the Year with this entry into the “Most Inappropriate Crime Spree” portion of the annual Bad Apple Pageant and Parade.

Via the SCTimes.com:

A Meeker County sheriff’s deputy charged with stealing from the county law enforcement center and courthouse has resigned, the sheriff’s office announced Thursday.

Travis Sebring appeared in court Thursday facing four felonies, including three counts of drug possession and one count of theft. A criminal complaint against Sebring says he stole multiple times from a drop box for excess prescription drugs, stole two large garbage bags full of toys from a county Christmas toy drive, and also stole a wooden chair from a government building.

According to the complaint:

Chief Deputy Dan Miller saw Sebring, who was off-duty at the time, digging through the drug drop box on Nov. 25. The drop box is meant for members of the public to drop off excess prescription drugs for proper disposal, and as a deputy Sebring had a key to the box. Sheriff Brian Cruze then reviewed video surveillance of the area where the box is located and saw a pattern of Sebring digging in the box, taking out a bag, leaving view of the camera, and then returning and placing the bag back in the box.

On Dec. 19, Cruze reviewed video of Sebring walking through the basement of the courthouse carrying two full garbage bags. The basement was full of toys donated for a program providing toys to families in need of holiday assistance. Sebring took the bags into his squad car and left with them at the end of his shift, the complaint states.

On Jan. 2, Cruze viewed video of Sebring taking a wooden chair from the courthouse and placing it in his squad vehicle before ending his shift and leaving with the chair.

On Tuesday, sheriff’s investigators placed two bottles of a controlled substance in a plastic bag and left it in the drop box. Around 30 minutes later, Sebring took the bag from the box, and he later returned it empty, the complaint states. When investigators approached him, he admitted he had been stealing from the box for up to a year for personal use. He also admitted he took toys from the toy drive and gave them to family members. And he said he had taken the chair and it was currently in his garage.

Authorities searched his home and found several toys, the chair, and more than 100 prescription medication tablets.

Admittedly, it’s early in the year and some cops are able to get well below the typical and expected levels of scumbag limbo almost as if they’ve been formally trained to do so. However, it’s hard to see someone beat getting drugged up on stolen drugs, while literally stealing toys from children. (At Christmas, no less.) The wooden chair thing is a bit confusing, but I’m assuming that counts toward some sort of tie-breaker or bonus points on the Bizarro World Point Scale. So, he’s got that extra cushion inside his bag of stolen toys, as well. (You saw what I did here.)

I suppose there’s always room for a dark horse to play spoiler, but it’s hard to even envision that happening at this point. Well played Former Deputy Sebring!