- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A Baltimore police officer named Richard Pinheiro was caught by his own body camera planting — allegedly — illegal drugs at the scene of an arrest.

This is beyond ruh-roh. This is egregious, criminal — and politically hot.

Aside from making this week’s list of World’s Dumbest Criminals, Pinheiro has now, in one fell swoop, underscored what the social justice leftists and Black Lives Matter activists have screamed for some time: Police are corrupt and racist, bent on taking down the minorities.

Thanks a lot, Pinheiro. You’ve just made Blue Lives Matter a laughing stock of a movement — pro-police activists and law enforcement advocates a snicker in the wind.

And not just Pinheiro. Apparently, as Fox News noted, there were two other officers standing idly by as the drug-planting — alleged — went forth.

The footage came to light in a drug case that was due for hearing. Prosecutors dropped it like a hot potato after the public defender reviewing the arrest video had a “wait a minute” moment.

More needs to be done, though.

Baltimore’s Office of the Public Defender says Pinheiro and his two quiet police officer accomplices — alleged — were due to testify for the prosecutor in dozens of upcoming cases.

“The officer whose camera shows him planting the drugs, Officer Richard Pinheiro, is a witness in approximately 53 active cases,” a statement from the Public Defender’s office read.

Those are all now suspect. So are whatever cases Pinheiro testified on in the past.

And so is Pinheiro’s entire ability to perform the duties of an officer of the law — as well as that of his camera-captured cohorts (allegedly).

“In the video,” Fox News reported, “it appears that Pinheiro attempts to turn off the camera but only mutes it before he plants the bag of drugs in among a trash pile in a back alleyway. The officer and his two colleagues then walk back out to the street, where he is seen flipping a switch which brings the sound back on. Pinheiro then walks back to the alley where he ‘discovers’ the narcotics. He then brings his find back to his partners before the video ends.”

Sometime after, the officers make the arrest.

America has a justice system that allows all to be considered innocent until proven guilty — even in cases where cameras and video footage seem to convict. So on that score, Pinheiro and his two colleagues are not guilty of anything, legally anyway.

But the optics are damning and damaging.

This is a prosecutor’s nightmare, a defender’s dream, a taxpayer’s headache — but mostly, a travesty of justice. Pinheiro, along with his two police colleagues, should be called to account in court for their actions — and if found guilty of planting evidence, fired. Meanwhile, all the cases tied to these officers should be placed under immediate review, set for retrial, if necessary.

That’s the only way to restore some semblance of justice to Baltimore’s police department. That’s the only way to calm the national political firestorm that pits anti-police activists against the voices for law and order — the Black Lives Matter crowd versus the Blue Lives Matter movement.

Moreover, it’s just the right thing to do. America’s justice system is supposed to be blind, not just to race, but also to position. As Theodore Roosevelt intoned: “No man is above the law and no man is below it.” Well, that goes for police, as well.

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