Video purportedly shows Baltimore police officer planting drugs, public defender's office says

Body camera video purportedly showing a Baltimore police officer planting drugs has prompted an investigation by police and prosecutors.

The video, flagged by the Office of the Public Defender, was taken during a January drug arrest.

It shows an officer placing a can in a trash-filled lot as two other officer look on, then activating the camera and returning to pick up the can and pulling out a baggie of white capsules.

The cameras save 30 seconds of video before they're activated.

The Office of the Public Defender identified the officer who allegedly planted the drugs as Richard Pinheiro.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said they department was investigating whether Pinheiro had actually confiscated the drugs from the suspect and then hid them to be able to "document" their discovery.

"It’s certainly a possibility that we're looking into to see if the officers  in fact replaced drugs that they had already discovered in order to document their discovery with their body worn cameras on," Davis explained during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

While charges were dropped in the case, the Office of the Public Defender said it was concerned that Pinheiro was called to testify in another case the following week without any disclosure of the body camera footage.

“We have long supported the use of police body cameras to help identify police misconduct, but such footage is meaningless if prosecutors continue to rely on these officers, especially if they do so without disclosing their bad acts,” said Debbie Katz Levi, head of the Baltimore Public Defender’s Special Litigation Section. “Officers should not be able to decide when to turn the cameras on and off, and footage like what was presented here needs to result in immediate action by the State’s Attorney and the Police Department.”

Pinheiro, who has been a member of the force for six years, is currently a witness in nearly 53 active cases, according to the Office of the Public Defender.

"We just found out over the last day or so about this allegation. The State's Attorney's  Office contacted the Office of Professional Responsibility on the Baltimore Police Department and we immediately launched an investigation," Davis stated.

State's Attorney's Office spokeswoman Melba Saunders said the case was under investigation.

FOX 5 has reached out to the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police Lodge and is waiting to hear back.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.