Man’s charges dropped after officers accidentally film themselves planting cocaine

A local news station’s diligent reporting possibly got a man’s bogus drug charges dropped.

In November of last year, a local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles came across a video that appeared to depict an LAPD officer accidentally filming himself planting drugs on a suspect during a felony hit-and-run arrest.

The footage taken last April shows police arresting Ronald Shields, who was charged with felony hit-and-run, having a gun in the trunk of his car, and cocaine possession. The police report indicated that cocaine was found in Shields’ “left pocket.”

But in the footage, an officer identified only by his last name, Gaxiola, picks up Shields’ wallet from the street and shows it to another officer, who motions that the wallet belongs to Sheilds. Gaxiola then puts the wallet back down and picks up a small bag of cocaine from the street and puts it in the wallet.

According CBS2, the officer apparently didn’t know that when the body cam is switched on, it automatically records and saves the previous 30 seconds without audio.

Now CBS2 is reporting that the drug and weapons charge has been dropped, and Shields’ attorney thinks it’s because of the video.

The L.A. District Attorney announced a plea bargain Wednesday with Ronald Shields, 52, dropping an additional weapons charge for a gun found in his trunk during an April 2017 hit-and-run stop.

Shields was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor hit-and-run charge.

Shields’ defense attorney Steve Levine praised the news outlet for apparently being instrumental in his client’s exoneration.

“This case blew up, and you were out there asking lots of hard questions to a lot of people, and it was the video that showed the mishandling of evidence. So, of course, it might have had something to do with it,” Levine said.

Watch CBS2’s initial report below:

Featured image via screengrab

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