An investigation is under way after body camera footage from a Baltimore police officer appears to show officers planting evidence and then acting for the camera as if it is a new discovery.
The footage was tweeted out by Baltimore Sun reporter, Justin Fenton, who said that the man held on drug charges from the video faced bail at $50,000 (£38,000), which he was unable to afford.
"Officer misconduct has been a pervasive issue at the Baltimore police department, which is exacerbated by the lack of accountability," said Debbie Katz Levi, head of the Baltimore public defender's special litigation section.
In a press conference, Baltimore police commissioner Kevin Davis said that the department was investigating the video and that one officer had had his powers suspended while two others had been put on administrative duty.
"There is nothing that deteriorates the trust of any community more than thinking for one second that uniformed police officers, and officers in general, would plant evidence of crimes on citizens," Davis said.
Deputy police commissioner, Jason Johnson, took reporters through other bodycam clips from the incident. Johnson said that police had been told that the officers saw what they thought was a drug transaction take place in an alleyway.
They then confronted the alleged seller who was found to have marijuana and allegedly heroin on his person. The buyer was stopped in a car and was also found to have what was thought to be heroin.
Johnson said that the officers believed the seller was keeping drugs in the alley where they allege the transaction took place and went to investigate.
"It's certainly a possibility that we're looking into to see if the officers in fact replaced drugs that they had already discovered in order to document their discovery with their body worn cameras on, that's certainly a consideration," Davis said.
When asked whether police would not have seen the clip before it went to the state attorney's office, Davis said: "We don't review every moment, every minute".
Baltimore public defender's office named the officer involved as Richard Pinheiro and said that he is "a witness in approximately 53 active cases".
"Body cameras have an important role to play in the oversight and accountability of police officers but only if they are used properly and the footage is taken seriously," said Levi. "Officers should not be able to decide when to turn the cameras on and off, and footage like what was presented here needs to result in immediate action by the State's Attorney and the Police Department."