The defense lawyer says the video shown in court shows officer Samuel Lee planting drugs in the man’s wallet. Everything the officer did was caught on bodycam and he had no comment about the video.
“He looked dumbstruck to me,” lawyer Steve Levine stated. “Period. He had really no answer.”
The accident happened in April and the LAPD is now investigating.
This video release is the first time the media has been able to see video from police officers’ bodycams. The LAPD as a policy does not release the footage.
Ronald Shields was arrested and charged with both felony hit-and-run as well as cocaine possession. The officers who were there that day were asked to testify in a pretrial hearing.
In the video, Lee is seen searching the suspect and he testified that the cocaine was found in Shield’s front left pocket. The video, however, contradicts Lee.
In one of the bodycam videos, LAPD officer Gaxiola picks up Shield’s wallet, shows it to Lee who then points to the suspect, indicating that it was his wallet.
The wallet is put down and a bag of white powder is found on the ground. Gaxiola steps back onto the sidewalk, picks up the wallet and appears to put the bag of cocaine into the wallet.
The cops may not have realized that the bodycams were on and recording at the moment they planted the drugs.
Once the wallet has been picked up, Gaxiola boasts to the other cops about the find.
“He has a little bag of narco in here,” he says in the footage. He says it three times.
Lee maintains that the drugs fell out of the suspect’s pocket but Levine has a different take.
“There’s a little white square here in his hand,” Levine said about the video. “I believe the video shows the drugs were in his right hand and transfers to his left hand.”