Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis on Thursday criticized State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby’s decision to drop dozens of cases earlier this week after announcing a third “questionable” body-worn camera video was reported to her office.
“I firmly disagree with this decision,” Davis said. “I will not be a bystander when my police officers are doing what I and their commanders expect them to do in this crime fight.”
Prosecutors identified 43 cases that have or will be dropped where the officers involved in the video incident were material witnesses, according to a news release issued Monday.
The video was only described by Mosby’s office as a “reenactment of the seizure of evidence” which was self-reported by the Baltimore Police Department on Aug. 2.
But according to police, the officers were following a lead to recover drugs discarded by a fleeing suspect and the officer who located the alleged contraband did not have his camera on when he first encountered it. Body camera footage from another officer shows him pick up the evidence, replace it and turn his camera on before picking it up again.
“That is it. There is nothing questionable about this,” Davis said Thursday of the video. “The officers did exactly what I and the community expect of them: go out and make legal arrests based on sound probable cause of those trying to harm our communities.”
Mosby responded Thursday in a statement that “re-enacting the discovery and seizure of evidence cannot be the face of policing in Baltimore City” because it undermines public trust.
“The moment an officer decides to re-enact both the discovery and seizure of evidence and excludes this re-enactment in the statement of probable cause, it undermines public trust and creates indefensible doubts in the minds of the general public, judges and jurors,” she said.
Davis said Thursday an officer in the video reported what happened after another video purporting to show a reenactment of evidence recovery made headlines last month. That video was made public by the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, and to date 68 cases involving those officers have been dropped.
At the time, Davis said he “saw video footage of officers apparently placing evidence and recovering evidence in a way that is… inconsistent with the way police officers do business” and promised an investigation would be undertaken.
The first video and a second one, also made public by a defense attorney, are being investigated by the department’s internal affairs division, according to prosecutors.
On Thursday, Davis cautioned “we must not misconstrue mistakes in judgment by police officers as criminality” and said he could not allow the reputations of the officers involved in the most recent incident “to go unchecked.”