Outrage is brewing in Los Angeles after body camera footage from an LAPD officer’s body cam appears to show one of their own planting cocaine on a black man during an arrest.
The video is from back in April when officers stopped Ronald Shields, a 52-year-old man, who they claim had been involved in a hit-and-run collision.
CBS-LA was the first to post the disturbing footage, which caused the department to announce an internal investigation into the officer on Friday (November 10).
The police report heavily differs from what the body cam footage shows. It claims the drugs were located in the front left pocket of Shields’ shirt, but the video instead shows the officer, who’s been identified as Officer Gaxiola, picking the small bag of coke off the ground.
Officer Gaxiola then motions to another officer and points to Shield’s wallet in his hand and appears to place the drugs in the wallet. It’s then when Gaxiola turns on his body camera, presumably not knowing that the camera records 30 seconds prior to being switched on.
“The drugs were certainly planted,” Steve Levine, Shields' attorney, said to the court on Thursday. He also described his client as “dumbstruck” when the body cam footage was played after his testimony.
“If not for the body cam video, my client would be convicted of a crime he didn't commit,” Levine later told the court.
The judge claims he did not see the video in the same way, but Levine says he’ll continue to fight for his client. The LAPD released a statement about the incident and says it considers the allegations of misconduct “seriously.”
"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 statement reads.
See CBS-LA's package on the possible drug-planting below.