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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:

Annapolis, MD Police Officer James Spearman Threatens and Tries to Intimidate Citizen Legally Filming

The following post and video were shared with the CopBlock Network by Landon Tomsa, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

The following post is fairly self explanatory. The person who submitted it states that they saw an Annapolis City police officer, James Spearman, parked illegally while having some unspecified interaction with a woman. Shortly after, Officer Spearman aggressively approaches Tomsa and begins filming with his own cell phone.

As anyone who has filmed the police knows, this is actually not an unusual reaction by cops. They often project their own displeasure at being filmed onto the people legally filming them and think they’ll  “show them” by filming them back. Generally, Cop Blockers don’t mind being filmed and it amounts to a whole lot of nothing.

However, in the case of Officer Spearman, as can be seen on the video, he acts very aggressively and purposely invades Tomsa’s personal space (something that would get a citizen arrested) in order to harass and intimidate him for exercising his legal right not only to film in public, but as has been affirmed numerous times in court, also to film public employees performing their duties.

Also on the video you can see several “Good Cops,” including Officer Kevin Freeman, show up after being called by Officer Spearman to back up his efforts to stop a citizen from exercising his legal rights. Initially, they remove Spearman from the area and pretend to be sympathetic to Tomsa’s valid complaint. However, when Tomsa begins walking away and Officer Spearman resumes his harassment of him, the other officers somehow don’t seem to notice, since they make no effort to intervene a second time.

Date of Incident: October 10, 2016
Officers Involved: Officer James Spearman Badge #2077, Officer Kevin Freeman, also multiple other officer who didn’t identify themselves.
Department Involved: Annapolis City Police Department
Department Facebook Page: Annapolis Police Department
Department Twitter Account: @AnnapolisPD
Internal Affairs Section:

If you have a video, personal story involving police misconduct and/or abuse, or commentary about a law enforcement related news story, we would be happy to have you submit it. You can find some advice on how to get your submission published on the CopBlock Network within this post.

Click the banner to submit content to CopBlock.org

Click the banner to submit content to CopBlock.org

I would just like to start off by saying that my prior interactions with the law enforcement officers of the Great State of Maryland had been pretty good, overall. The Annapolis County Police have given me nothing but respect and even a little help in some situations with my filming of interactions with the police. For some reason though, it seems that the Annapolis City Police Department doesn’t do things quite the same way.

On the morning of October 10th, I got up early and, having the day off, decided to head to the state capital to see what was going on. After walking around for about a half-hour, I came across a police cruiser, which happened to be parked in a loading only zone. I noticed a woman interacting with a police officer, so I decided to film this attraction.

After a while, the woman left and the officer, after sitting in his car for a bit, got out and started approaching me. What transpired next is exactly what you see on the video.

Having pulled out his personal cell phone, he approached me continuously while trying to get a picture of me for some reason. Officer Spearman then chased me down a main thoroughfare in Annapolis about two blocks from where I originally started the interaction.

It was about at this point that other officers started arriving. The arriving officers then separated Officer Spearman and I. A second officer approached me and, as you can see in the video, I sort of explain the situation to him. A third officer, with a body cam, identified himself as Kevin Freeman. I found out later he was the commander for the Annapolis Police K-9 Division.

I explained the situation to him, he seemed to agreeably and professionally take my complaint about the officer and assured me it would be addressed. Unfortunately, as I was walking back towards the Capitol Building, Officer Spearman continued to follow me. He again began walking, unimpeded, away from the other officers, who had told me they wouldn’t let him do this.

As he was following me he made some very odd comments. I don’t know if you can hear them in the video, but one was, “now we’ll do a follow up with the Department of Homeland Security.” The other was, “We may have a lone wolf situation here.” Both ludicrous statements as you can tell from my reaction if the video.

I hope the public finds this video as informative as I did about certain officers within the Annapolis Police Department. And if anybody feels like expressing their own opinion to the Annapolis Police department, included are the public access, non-emergency numbers and email for their Internal Affairs Department, as well as links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Feel free to express your opinion, it is your right as much as filming them in public without having to be being harassed and intimidated is.

– Landon Tomsa

Just wanted to give a big thanks and a shout out to everyone involved at CopBlock.org. Though I have not been doing this very long, you guys have helped me immensely. Keep up the good work and let people know that Badges Don’t Grant Extra Rights.

Frostburg State University Cop Asks Detained Woman How to Unload Weapon; Points Gun at Cars

The following videos and description were shared with the CopBlock Network by Stephanie Sledge, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. The video shows a traffic stop by a pair of police officers working for Frostburg State University in Maryland, in which a female driver was arrested for having a firearm in her purse. According to Stephanie, the gun was found during an illegal search. After the weapon was found, as is described below and pretty visible in the video, the officer trying to clear the weapon seems to not know very well how to handle a firearm, something that you would thing would be fairly integral to his job.

Date of Incident: June 1, 2016
Officer Involved: Officer Pirolozzi
Department Involved: Frostburg State University Police
Email Address: [email protected]
Phone Number: (301) 687-4223

If you have a video, personal story involving police misconduct and/or abuse, or commentary about a law enforcement related news story, we would be happy to have you submit it. You can find some advice on how to get your submission published on the CopBlock Network within this post.

Click the banner to submit content to CopBlock.org

Click the banner to submit content to CopBlock.org

Frostburg State University cops pulled over a woman for accidentally turning the wrong way down a one way street. She was pulled over by two officers surrounding her car. She was given her citations and told she was free to go.

Officer Pirolozzi then changed his mind and asked the woman if he could search her car. She told him she does not give him consent and reminded the officer he had told her she was free to go.

The officer then asked her to get out of the car, detained her, and illegally searched her car anyway. A hand gun was found in her purse. The officer then had to ask the woman how to unload the weapon after illegally searching her vehicle.

He wore an “expert marksman” patch on his uniform. The officer also pointed the loaded weapon in a public street as cars were passing by. The other officer had to inform him cars were coming.

They charged her with having a “Weapon in a Vehicle.” She took the case to trial and was found not guilty because her Fourth Amendment rights against being searched without reasonable cause had been violated.

– Stephanie Sledge

Maryland Cops Made Newb Work at Burger King for Two Months for Giant Five Gram Marijuana Bust

In the small Maryland town of Thurmont, police spent two months on an undercover operation that eventually thwarted a massive drug ring involving two twenty-something employees. At the conclusion of the big sting operation, cops were able to keep five grams of pot and two morphine pills off the streets of Thurmont.

Of course, in order to pull off this massive undertaking and get to the Burger Kingpin, somebody had to pick up a second job slinging burgers for two months. Fortunately, they had some fresh meat just out of the academy that they could use to find out who was giving customers a little extra lettuce with their burgers.

Via the FrederickNewsPost.com:

The operation began in August as Officer Nicole Fair was still adjusting to the department, having started July 1. Fair’s tenure coincided with complaints about drugs being sold out of the Burger King on North Church Street. Her supervisors quickly realized the opportunity to run an undercover operation, Chief Greg Eyler said.

“It is less common, because we live in a small, tight-knit community where people know one another. In this case, we had a new officer who wasn’t well-known in Thurmont at the time,” Eyler explained. “So we thought that we would put her in there in a covert operation.”Submitting a résumé that included some of her work history but excluded her law enforcement career, Fair was hired by the fast-food restaurant in early August and set out to get to the bottom of the rumors.

By Sept. 22, indictments were unsealed against two Burger King employees, 23-year-old Tommy Lee Miller and 28-year-old Jonathan Brook Moser, in Frederick County Circuit Court on the strength of Fair’s undercover work, which resulted in at least two drug purchases by the new officer.

“I was hired to help and protect the community of Thurmont, and that was what I was doing. You hear about all the drug problems we’re having here and elsewhere and, whether it’s marijuana or something else, we’re really feeling the effects of it,” Fair said of her role in the arrests. “To be able to do something to directly address that, especially being a new officer, was extremely rewarding.”

Police seized 5 grams of marijuana and two morphine pills during the operation, Eyler wrote in an email response to The Frederick News-Post’s questions Tuesday.

Possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana on its own is not enough to warrant more than a criminal citation under state law, but because the men sold marijuana to Fair, both were charged with distribution and possession with the intent to distribute marijuana, more serious offenses that carry jail time, Eyler said.

“It was worth doing the investigation because distribution is a felony and they were dealing at a restaurant, which is totally inappropriate,” the chief said of the undercover operation.

Before the investigating, the department did not know the quantity of drugs Miller and Moser had, Eyler said

No search warrants were filed after the indictments, Eyler said. While drugs were seized during the investigation, police did not have probable cause to search any other addresses, including the Burger King or either man’s home, he said.

Both the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office and Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird were told that police were planning an undercover operation, but Burger King was not notified.

“Based upon the information we had, we felt that anonymity was necessary for the protection of the officer and the integrity of the operation. … Alerting management would have compromised the investigation,” State’s Attorney Charlie Smith said.

So, the biggest surprise about this story is obviously that she had to put in a resume to get a job at Burger King. That tells you a few things about the economy and job situation in Thurmont. But getting past that, it took her two months to find someone that would sell her an amount of pot that would only get you fined and (literally) a couple pills without even being able to drum up an excuse for a warrant to look for more.

That just tells you what horrible drug epidemic it was that Officer Fair (I’m seeing the irony) was “protecting the community of Thurmont from.” The reality is no doubt that she couldn’t find anyone running drug sales out of the Burger King, so she found a couple gullible guys willing to supply her with some of their personal stash. That, of course, was inflated into a felony “crime” for something that shouldn’t even be illegal in the first place.

It’s good though that Officer Fair got some valuable experience to fall back on though, if this whole being a cop and ruining people’s lives over victimless crimes thing doesn’t work out.

Beating a Cop at His Own Game in Maryland

The video within this post was shared with Nevada Cop Block by James Williams, via the NVCopblock.org Submissions Page.

James shows what happened when he was stopped in his car by a Maryland police officer, who had pulled onto the shoulder of the road to pass traffic, which was backed up and moving below the speed limit at the time.

According to James, he decided that if that was legal for the police officer, then it should be legal for him, as well:

I was on a local road (Ritchie-Marlboro Road). I was in a line of vehicles that were driving under the speed limit. In front of me was an unmarked Dodge Charger.

The officer driving the unmarked car eventually passed a car on the shoulder, swung back across to the left lane, and then passed the rest of the traffic on the left. So, I followed suit.

He pulled me over. I started recording. The rest is history…

James Williams

Watch the video and see what sort of history gets written.

Do you think James will get away with driving that way without a Shiny Badge or a Magic Suit to give him extra rights?

Or will the police officer explain that cops are immune to laws that supposedly keep everyone safe out there?

Questionable FBI Surveillance Aircraft Fleet Outed by Coalition of Journalists, Activists, And Techies

The following post was submitted to the CopBlock Network by Isiah Holmes, who has been featured several times previously on Cop Block, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. In this post, Isiah discusses the use of aircraft FBI to conduct surveillance and the role that private citizens (along with the media) played in uncovering and exposing the program’s existence and just how widespread its use is.

(Note: The FBI’s use of surveillance aircraft to spy on activists and protesters was also discussed by Asa J in an earlier post published in August of last year.)

Mice Chasing The Hawk

There exists a variety of stories notorious — amongst those whom it concerns — for their uncanny quality of illuminating hidden plights and unsung heroes. Such tales, unfortunately, rarely experience veneration in modern western society. For the sake of this piece, think not of the many examples of centuries old legends and fables. Instead, accept the challenge of recognizing just one of this variety’s countless modern manifestations. For instance, when a loose coalition of professional and citizen journalists, activists, and techies blew the lid off the FBI’s questionable, nationwide aerial surveillance program. Blew the lid–only to have the story locked into a press loop where it ultimately succumbed to starvation. This piece might be considered a functional revival of the tale.

It began in Baltimore in 2015, after Freddie Gray’s death in police custody and during the subsequent protests and riots. Cameras were everywhere, whether belonging to Baltimore PD, press, bystanders or active civic dissidents. No one, however, anticipated cameras and cell phone collection tech, for that matter, having circled above them for days. International Business Times reports, Benjamin Shayne, leader of the police radio site www.scanbaltimore.com, was among the first to notice unusual air traffic. Shayne took to Twitter: “Anyone know who has been flying the light plane in circles above the city for the past few nights?” The planes, according to IBT, which flew from April 30th-May 2nd 2015, appeared shortly after Baltimore initiated a city-wide curfew.

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Following Benjamin’s tip, a coalition of Twitter and Reddit users, including one former ACLU employee, united to monitor the planes. According to IBT, a trove of data on the aircraft was compiled through their combined talents. Exact flight paths, docking airports, and owners were tracked. The planes were now being watched back.

According to a Washington Post piece, although one plane appeared to lack a tail number, a second was tracked back to “NG Research.” The company’s website boasts of expertise in air quality, aerosol chemistry, and health effects, but speaks not on why its plane was over Baltimore that day.

Once questions started flooding web feeds, the FBI, surprisingly, released a statement glistening with trepidation. “The aircraft,” officials said; according to the Washington Post, “were specifically used to provide high altitude observation of potential criminal activity to enable rapid response by police officials on the ground.” An Improv Online investigation into suspicious planes had–undoubtedly–forced “The Man” to come forward publicly on this “program.” Perhaps it’s safe to say that information, or rather free information, is power.

Due to the government’s reluctance, as well as technology concerns, the ACLU filed several FOIA requests. In tandem with the ACLU’s push, the Associated Press launched their own in depth investigation on the aircraft’s purpose and origin. As it turns out, an entire FBI controlled surveillance-purposed fleet waited for them at the end of the rabbit hole.

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The manned planes, carrying both powerful cameras, including infrared cameras, and cell phone data collection technology reputedly operate above cities quite often. All the craft, the Huffpost reports, are superficially attached not to a government program, but to fictitious companies used as fronts. Many sources reported on the infrared camera’s capabilities of literally seeing people inside of homes. The very nature of the technology is rather wide reaching and indiscriminate, meaning non-targets frequently are recorded. A 2001 Supreme Court decision, Kyllo v. United States, Washington Post reports, held using thermal imagers to “see details” inside enclosed buildings without a warrant amounts to an unlawful search.

AP journalists also discovered that despite the program’s capabilities, deployments are rarely approved by a judge. In light of this fact, according to the Huffington Post, FBI asserts the planes are deployed only for specific, ongoing investigations. Exactly what sort of investigations is entirely unclear.

In fact, nearly a year later, even basic information on the program is vigorously withheld. In terms of explicit references, the HuffPost reports, little more than already heavily censored Justice Department Inspector General reports is public. “The FBI’s aviation program is not secret”, says spokesman Christopher Allen. “Specific aircraft”, he continues, “and their capabilities are protected for operational purposes.” Allen, according to the HuffPost, asserts the planes are not “equipped, designed, or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance.” The FBI also, apparently, allocates the fleet as air support for local departments, on-request.

fbi-spy-plane-2-bSuch statements downplaying the possibility of bulk data collection do nothing, however, to explain the plane’s flight patterns. The AP, the HuffPost reports, uncovered flights orbiting large, enclosed buildings for extended periods of time. These areas, such as Virginia’s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Minnesota’s Mall Of America, made photo surveillance unlikely. Rather, electronic signals collection, the AP found, proves far more effective under such circumstances. The FBI planes, according to the AP’s flight data analysis, by 2015 had flown over at least 40,000 residents.

Conversely, officials did attribute gear capable of identifying people by their cellphones, even when not making calls, to the craft. Officials, the HuffPost echoed, say such devices, which mimic cellphone towers into providing basic subscriber information, are rarely deployed. The FBI’s cryptic program, sources claim, conjures memories of reports of suspicious planes circling US neighborhoods in 2003.

Through its investigation, the Associated Press was able to track 50 planes down to at least 13 fake companies. No, this is not hyperbole. They’re literally fraudulent, not real, lies, or whatever synonym you care to choose. FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR aviation, and PXW Services, according to the Huffington Post, were included among the AP’s findings. It’s interesting to note that, at least with these four companies, all have three letter acronym names. Not, of course, unlike the Federal Bureau of Investigations. A 2010 federal budget document, according to the HuffPost, verified the FBI’s fleet size at around 115 craft.

So really, to what extent is the federal law enforcement organization being brazenly, shamelessly deceptive? The FBI, according to the HuffPost, did ask the AP to not include any company names in its reporting. The bureau reputedly used the taxpayer dollars which would go towards replacing the disclosed companies as a kind of blackmail. Classy. The AP, of course, declined the FBI’s request as only publicly accessible information was used.

Most of the aircraft, despite belonging to different “companies”, were registered under a specific name–Robert Lindley. Registration documents signed by Lindley’s hand, HuffPost reports, display at least three distinct signatures. Hoping to verify the man’s existence, the AP has tried and failed to reach Robert through multiple Washington-area phone numbers under that name. FBI officials, to this day, refuse to comment on whether or not Lindley is a government employee.

By analyzing the plane’s flight data, journalists discovered the FBI fleet flew over more than 30 cities over a 30 day period. Since April 2015, two months before the Huffington Post piece, at least 100 flights circled both major cities and rural areas. Associated Press photographers even captured an image of a plane circling like a ghostly hawk in northern Virginia’s skies. The aircraft, the HuffPost reports, sported both a variety of suspicious antenna under its fuselage and a mounted camera.

Cities on the FBI’s flight list include: Houston, Phoenix, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, and southern California. Some of these cities, a quick google search reveals, were subject to recent protests and/or civil unrest, such as California, Chicago and, of course, Baltimore. Despite any such public data professional and citizen journalists, analysts, or researchers may gleam, fundamental questions abound. What precisely is the purpose or function of this specific program? How long has it been operational, and under what laws is it bound or regulated? Where does excess data and footage go? How far is too far?

FBI Surveillance BaltimoreDespite the FBI’s recent downplaying of its surveillance program, its statement before congress in 2009 really says it all. “Aircraft surveillance has become an indispensable intelligence collection and investigative technique which serves as a force multiplier to the ground teams.” According to the Huffington Post, this was part of the FBI’s bid to Congress for $5.1 million in funding for the so-called “spy plane” program.

Ask yourself, what does this statement and the amount of money the FBI requested, taken either alone or together, say about the program? Does it seem like its aircraft and the technology they’re equipped with would be so rarely utilized as officials claim? “A lot of questions are unclear”, says ACLU staff attorney Nathan Wessler, the Washington Post reports.

Is it safe to suppose at least part of the programs mandate involves surveillance of generously populated protests, rowdy or otherwise? Almost sensing the question lurking about its flank the Justice Department, the HuffPost reports, maintained its “drones” don’t deploy “solely” to monitor First Amendment protected activity. In Baltimore’s case, according to FBI and Federal Aviation Administration documents, both night vision and inferred tech scanned crowds below. The documents, Washington Post reports, were obtained by the ACLU through Freedom Of Information Act requests.

An FBI official, under anonymity due to the programs sensitive nature, claimed the planes were ensuring public safety. The official, according to Washington Post, used a “potential for large scale violence and riots” as justification. “Potential”, suggesting the planes were in the air before the ground atmosphere went agro. In case you’re wondering, documents also showed no evidence of a warrant being obtained prior or after the Baltimore operation.

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If there’s at all a silver lining in any of this, it’s how much independent people really contributed to the story. Most of the information used to track, verify, and ultimately link the planes to FBI’s program hid within a slush of online data. Even the Associated Press wouldn’t have conducted an investigation had Benjamin Shayne not first tweeted about the suspicious planes. A decentralized online contingent of bloggers and Reddit users, not the organized press, was the first to conduct any serious inquiry. It’s an utter travesty that the same headline, “FBI behind mysterious surveillance aircraft over cities”, along with nearly the same AP articles, were published across the board. If that’s not a press loop then a challenge goes out to anyone who can give a more textbook example.

For anyone interested conducting a more concurrent investigation, technologist John Wiseman, Fusion.net reports, has some tips to offer. Wiseman himself used public records to get flight routes, some of which can be found online. One would be surprised what kind of legitimate information floats about the slush untouched simply because no one, except those who care, bothers to look. John also reputedly used a modified radio receiver to pick up aircraft transmissions, and tracked tail numbers, provided by the Washington Post, to a fake company. Wiseman, Fusion.net reports, recommends sites like flightradar20 and flightaware for tracking aircraft registration numbers.

Here’s where this blog gets functional! Anyone willing, able, and/or both are by all means invited to rehash the investigation. Larger news organizations might feel subliminal pressure from the feds to keep quiet, edit stories, or what have you, but the people will not. How hard would it be to, say, check up on new data on the already “found out” planes? Where are they now? Have they traded hands or do the front-companies still stand? Speaking of the “companies”, they’re fair game too! NG Research, for example, has a website which can be easily found by googling the company name. No, there isn’t any product listings on the page. No, the page hasn’t changed for over a year despite it apparently being an actual company. A functional revival of the FBI’s surveillance program, even if not published, may prove uniquely valuable in the days to come.

– Isiah Holmes

Newly Released Video Shows Baltimore Police Lied About 2013 Shooting

A video that was just released as part of a lawsuit by a man the Baltimore Police shot in January 2013 contradicts the claims the officers involved made to justify that shooting. In their official report, those officers claimed that Shaun Mouzon tried to run them over with his car and that they were forced to shoot him in self defense.

Instead the video shows that Mouzon was stopped in traffic with cars in front of him when they pulled up behind him. Contrary to their statements, they were never in front of his car and it never moved until after he was shot. In addition, the police report claimed that they saw a gun in his waistband and Mouzon was charged with possession of a handgun, even  though no handgun was ever found on him or in his vehicle.

Via wbaltv.com:

(Baltimore attorney A. Dwight) Pettit gave 11 News access to the surveillance video of what happened when police stopped his client, Shaun Mouzon, on Jan. 28, 2013, in southwest Baltimore.

Pettit is suing five Baltimore City police officers, former Commissioners Anthony Batts and Fred Bealefeld, and the mayor and City Council for violating Mouzon’s rights, illegal seizure, assault and battery.

“You have not only the horror of the shooting and attempted murder, but then you have the horror of a fabrication of police reports to cover themselves,” Pettit said.

Officer Fabien Laronde wrote the report. He has been the subject of numerous 11 News I-Team investigations and misconduct complaints filed by residents. The city has settled some lawsuits against Laronde for more than $175,000.

This month, 20 defense attorneys asked the Police Department for Laronde’s Internal Affairs records, questioning his credibility.

“They knew at least one of these officers had a history as a bad actor and nothing was ever done against him,” Pettit said.

Laronde’s report said he observed what he believed to be the handle of a handgun in Mouzon’s waistband. Mouzon noticed the police presence and got into his car. The video shows Mouzon turn onto Edmonson Avenue and get stopped in traffic.

Laronde’s report said “Mr. Mouzon let off the brakes and began to accelerate towards the officers in front of the vehicle. At this time, a police-involved shooting occurred.”

“His car is stationary, blocked in traffic, it’s not moving. The officers walk up into the rear and to the side, and then you see the muzzle flashes, you see the officers open fire,” Pettit said.

The officers shot Mouzon 14 times in the head, chest and groin, according to his attorneys. The video shows him trying to navigate his vehicle away afterward before crashing. The police report said he fled the scene.

Mouzon was charged with several traffic violations and possession of a handgun. Pettit said his client was searched and no weapon was found on him or in his car. Eventually, the charges were dropped.

Pettit has filed the case in federal court.

As mentioned in the quote, Officer Fabien Laronde, who wrote the report, has a long history of abuse and misconduct during his illustrious career with the Baltimore City Police Department. Currently, he’s on (paid) leave after a incident in which a 7-11 called to report an armed man causing a disturbance in the store. That armed man turned out to be Officer Laronde. He’s also been banned from the Baltimore Municipal Courthouse after he was caught filming a witness with his cellphone during a trial.

And that’s not even the half of it:

It’s not the first time the city Police Department has investigated complaints about Laronde. He has been with the department for 14 years. His paper trail stretches from City Hall to the federal court to the city’s Circuit Court. City taxpayers have paid out money to settle lawsuits against Laronde more than once.

In July 2006, Laronde testified in a federal court hearing that he had been accused of planting evidence and had, at that time, pending complaints of use of excessive force. The outcome of the complaints is not known.

In July 2009, a man claimed he was strip-searched by Laronde at a shopping center parking lot and released without any charges. A lawsuit the man filed was dismissed because of confusion over the incident’s date.

In June 2011, a man claimed Laronde stole $770 from him after an arrest for marijuana possession, a charge that was later dismissed. The case settled out of court for an unknown amount.

In April 2012, the city paid a man and woman $155,000 to settle their lawsuit against Laronde and two other officers. The man claimed he was strip-searched. Both claimed they were assaulted on the street.

Most recently, the city paid $20,000 to a man who claimed Laronde and another officer unlawfully detained him inside the Baltimore City Circuit Court. The man was employee of the court clerk.

Not surprisingly, the BPD is refusing to release details about the 7-11 incident except to say that they are not conducting a criminal investigation into his actions. Based on their past history of “investigating” Laronde, I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting results from this latest internal investigation, either.

Breaking: Three Baltimore Police Officers Charged With Assaulting Juvenile at Sinai Hospital

Three Baltimore police officers have been suspended and charged with assaulting a juvenile as a result of an incident that happened one year ago on January 14th, 2015. Officers Duane Williams Jr., Bijay Ranabhat, and Lonnie White Jr. face various charges in the assault, which reportedly took place at Sinai Hospital.

Exact details of the nature of the attack or the victim’s identity have not been released at this time.

Via the Baltimore Sun:

Officer Duane Williams Jr., a seven-year veteran assigned to the Northwest District, was charged with second-degree child abuse, second-degree assault and misconduct in office, police said. He has been suspended without pay.

Officer Bijay Ranabhat, a two-year veteran, was charged with misconduct in office and suspended with pay.

Officer Lonnie White Jr., who has been with the department for two years, was charged with perjury and misconduct in office and suspended with pay.

Police said the assault occurred Jan. 14, 2015. Further details were not released, and court records were not immediately available.

Prosecutors have declined to comment, citing the pending cases.

The department’s internal affairs division was notified of the incident last January, police said.

An indictment against two of the officers was handed up Wednesday, police said; the other officer was charged on a criminal summons.

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Of the three, Ofc. Duane Williams Jr. was the only not given a paid vacation. So the obvious implication of that is that he’s the one that did most, if not all, of the assaulting of someone young enough to justify a child abuse charge. Judging by the perjury charge, I’d speculate that Ofc. Lonnie White Jr. is a Good Cop who merely stood by while Williams beat his underage victim and then attempted to cover it up for him. We’ll just have to wait until the next episode to find out exactly how Ofc. Bijay Ranabhat fits into the puzzle. (Rest assured, we’ll fill you in on the details as they become available.)

Update: Retrial Scheduled For William Porter in Freddie Gray Murder

On Monday, Baltimore Police Officer William Porter’s retrial was scheduled for June 13. Last week, a jury deadlocked and Porter’s trial was declared a mistrial. Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams also ruled that the trials for the five other officers indicted for their part in Freddie Gray’s death would go on as scheduled.

Via the Baltimore Sun:

The court announced Porter’s new trial date on Monday, after prosecutors met with Porter’s attorneys in Williams’ private chambers to discuss the rescheduling. The court also announced that the trial of Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr. — the van’s driver, who faces second-degree murder in Gray’s death — will proceed as scheduled on Jan. 6.

However, the new date for Porter’s trial still had to be officially read into the court record, which occurred in an administrative courtroom Tuesday morning. The proceeding, before Circuit Judge Alfred Nance, only lasted a few minutes.

William Porter Freddie Gray Trial“You plan to go forward with this as a retrial?” Nance asked.

“Yes, your honor,” said Deputy State’s Attorney Jan Bledsoe.

Bledsoe was joined by Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow. The pair argued the case before the jury in Porter’s first trial.

Also there was Porter’s attorney Joseph Murtha. Porter was not there, having waived his right to appear at the scheduling hearing.

Before the proceeding, Bledsoe and Schatzow chatted casually with Murtha.

Porter’s trial date could change, or get canceled, between now and June depending on the outcomes of the other officers’ trials, all of which are scheduled to occur in consecutive order between January and March.

 

Update: All Sixteen Protestors Who Occupied Baltimore City Hall Released

All sixteen of the protesters who were arrested after they occupied the city hall in Baltimore were released on Friday. The coalition of protesters, made up primarily of young adults, were prompted by the murder of Freddie Gray and ongoing civil rights abuses and violence by the police against citizens of Baltimore, especially among people of color.

In total, about three dozen protesters had occupied a balcony area of the Baltimore City Hall after a city council hearing on Wednesday in which it was voted to approve the permanent appointment of Interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis. The coalition of Baltimore area groups, calling themselves “Baltimore Uprising,” includes (but is not necessarily limited to) members of Youth as Resources, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, The West Coalition, City Bloc, Baltimore Algebra Project, Baltimore Bloc and Black EXCELLence.

Lawrence Grandpre, the director of research at Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle Baltimore, a youth-led think tank and advocacy group and who, according to Newsweek, describes himself as an adult ally to the youth who organized the protest summed up some of the issues the protesters were seeking to address:

“When there are potentially minor infractions in the process of people expressing their First Amendment right, instead of engaging these people in dialogue, they feel that during the short reign of the interim commissioner the police now escalate it to arrests,” Grandpre explains. “[The protesters] first demand is for the commissioner to change his policy about aggressive policing of protesting.”

Baltimore Occupation City Hall“What we have is police who cannot delineate between a peaceful protest and someone targeting them, because they haven’t had the training. I think the young people wanted a dialogue. They want substantive engagement,” he adds.

In addition to taking issue with Davis’s policing, Grandpre notes the protesters took issue with Baltimore’s housing commissioner. Grandpre says the protesters also take exception to a plan to build a detention center for youth charged as adults. He argued that the funds would be better used for programs meant to engage the community and prevent young people from falling into the criminal justice system in the first place.

“This isn’t just about Commissioner Davis. This is about a larger system of injustice,” Grandpre says.

The coalition had made several demands, including that Commissioner Davis and Mayor Rawlings-Blake meet with them to discuss their complaints, as well as an increase in funding for education.