You’re supposed to be able to trust police officers to tell the truth when they’re under oath.
Since police officers are sworn to uphold the law and are often the only witnesses to events that happen during the commission of a crime — aside from the criminals — juries have to rely on their inherent trustworthiness when an officer takes the stand.
Unfortunately, Baltimore’s police officers have proven somewhat untrustworthy both on and off the stand lately. With several elite members of one task force either turning into witnesses for the prosecution or being convicted of racketeering and other crimes, local police don’t need any more bad press.
That is, however, exactly what they’re getting — thanks to an officer who was caught lying in court by a sharp criminal defense attorney.
A Baltimore detective testified in court that he’d personally seen a defendant charged with selling drugs nearly every day during an 18-month period before seeing him in the act. He then claimed he’d chased the defendant into a local drug den.
The defendant faced charges of heroin possession based on drugs the officer claimed the defendant had tossed aside while being pursued. He was also charged in connection with a gun and more drugs found in the home into which he fled.
The defendant’s presence in the area on a regular basis was a critical issue because it served as evidence to support his connection to the house in which the drugs were found.
Unfortunately for the detective, there was no possible way that the defendant had actually been in the area for at least a year out of that time. The defendant’s alibi was unquestionable, too, since he’d actually been in jail during that time on another charge.
Unsurprisingly, the jury acquitted the defendant after only a few minutes of deliberation.
Despite this, the officer’s still on the job and scheduled to testify in other cases — although any smart defense attorney is going to take note of what happened in this case and submit it as evidence of the officer’s willingness to “bend” the truth in order to get a conviction.
Amazingly enough, there’s no system in place to keep officers with honesty problems off the stand. That’s supposed to be part of the prosecutor’s job. For now, however, defendants will have to rely on their criminal defense attorneys to protect them.
Source: The Baltimore Sun, “A Baltimore police officer was caught giving false testimony in court. He's still on the job.,” Kevin Rector, Jan. 28, 2018