Members of the police force in the United States have come under increased scrutiny in the past few years over incidents of misconduct and violence. It’s not uncommon for officers to resort to unnecessary violence over something as small as marijuana possession. Thanks to modern technology, more of these incidents are now being recorded on camera and the officers in question are more often being held accountable for their actions. Most recently, body cam footage caught an officer with the LAPD planting drugs on a man during a traffic stop.
CBS2 News obtained the video from an incident that happened back in April. The footage shows an officer planting drugs on a man during a traffic stop. The officer in question, Officer Gaxiola picks up a small bag of what appears to be cocaine and stashes it in the wallet of 52-year-old Ronald Shields.
Gaxiola is heard proudly saying, “he has a little bag of narco in here,” several times in the video.
The footage was taken from Gaxiola’s own body cam.
But why would the officer plant the drugs if he knew he was being recorded? Attorney Steve Levine, who is representing Shields, says he believes the officer failed to take into consideration that the camera actually starts recording 30 seconds before the point when the device is switched on. Footage of the LAPD planting drugs seems to take place within those 30 seconds, which reinforces Levine’s claim.
“The drugs were certainly planted,” Levine said last week during a pretrial hearing. “If not for the body cam video, my client would be convicted of a crime he didn’t commit.”
Shields was charged with felony cocaine possession, which carries a penalty of up to three years in a state penitentiary. He was initially being investigated in connection with a hit-and-run.
Disappointingly, the judge presiding over the case claimed not to notice the LAPD panting drugs or anything amiss in the video.
The officers involved have failed to provide any comment on the incident.
Shortly after CBS2 aired its segment on the alleged actions of the two officers, the LAPD announced a formal investigation, suggesting that the department felt the heat from the allegations.
“The LAPD takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and, as in all cases, will conduct a thorough investigation to determine whether the alleged actions are supported by reliable evidence,” their statement read.
If it comes to light that the footage of the LAPD planting drugs is accurate, it is possible that people convicted of cocaine possession after being busted by the officers involved might have grounds for an appeal.
Not sure what to think? Watch the video and decide for yourself:
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