LAPD officers are under investigation by their department after a CBS2 report shows what the news agency claims is officers planting drugs on a suspect.
Except the video actually shows the officers not planting drugs on a suspect.
Unfortunately, nobody appears to have any idea what they are actually seeing in the video, and nobody seems to be questioning to absurd claims in the video.
In April, LAPD officers stopped 52-year-old Ronald Shields for being the suspect in a felony hit-and-run collision.
After he was arrested, cocaine was found on Shields, and a loaded gun was found in his trunk.
CBS2 released clips of bodycam footage to show their “proof” that the evidence was planted, except the video doesn’t show that at all.
Planting Cocaine Is Pointless
Before we get into what’s wrong with the video, I’d like to point out that planting cocaine actually serves no purpose.
Possession of small amounts of cocaine in the state of California is a misdemeanor and usually not even charged by the prosecutor’s office.
In this instance, Shields was charged with possession of cocaine, but only because he was already being charged with a felony hit and run.
The sentence for possession of cocaine often results in treatment and no jail time.
This begs the question – why would an officer illegally plant evidence on somebody who committed a felony in order to get them charged with an additional misdemeanor? It makes no sense.
In addition to that, it would require numerous officers conspiring together to illegally plant drugs on Shields in order to frame him for the misdemeanor.
You can see the CBS2 video report here. After the video, we’ll cover exactly why this video shows nothing wrong:
This Doesn’t Show Anybody Planting Evidence
Officer Lee wrote in his report, and testified in court, that the cocaine was found in Shields’ front left pocket.
The news reports seem to suggest that the cocaine was located elsewhere, because Officer Gaxiola could be seen picking up the drugs from the ground and placing it in Shields’ wallet.
What every news agency is ignoring is that the drugs were on the ground next to the suspect’s wallet and cell phone. Why? Because Officer Lee emptied out Shields’ pocket and put the contents on the ground.
Here is Officer Lee searching Shields' front left pocket:
Here are all of the contents from his pocket on the ground:
Shields' belongings didn't just materialize on the ground, Officer Lee put them there.
As it’s clear in the video, Officer Lee searched Shields’ pockets and testified that he found the drugs in one of those pockets because that’s where he actually found the drugs.
It is irrelevant if Officer Gaxiola later picked up the evidence from the ground and put it in the wallet.
The news suggested that this move was Officer Gaxiola was planting the drugs in the wallet.
“Why are you putting the cocaine in the suspect’s wallet?” Goldstein asked Officer Gaxiola on video.
Remember, the officers never claimed that they found the drugs in the wallet. This makes the act of putting the drugs in the wallet irrelevant. If the officers were actually trying to plant drugs in the wallet, they would say that they found the drugs in the wallet.
It’s pretty normal to put evidence together like this to make it easier to carry and hold onto. There is absolutely nothing suspicious about what happened.
The video further shows Officer Gaxiola showing Officer Lee that he was putting the drugs into the wallet, so Officer Lee would know where it was.
The defense attorney tried to point to Officer Gaxiola’s hand in the video to suggest that he was holding the drugs before they were found on the ground, but even the judge admitted that he couldn’t see what the defense attorney claimed was drugs being planted.
That didn’t stop numerous mainstream news outlets from picking up this fabricated story.
Shields’ attorney appears to know exactly what he’s doing. “He looked dumbstruck to me,” Attorney Levine said to Goldstein. “Period. He had really no answers.”
Of course, the officer had no answers, because he was never questioned about the video and wasn’t allowed to interject.
LAPD released a statement saying, "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."
The court case was continued and no ruling will be made on the evidence until December.