During the pretrial hearing for 52-year-old Ronald Shields, who has been charged with a felony hit-and-run and possession of cocaine, Shield's attorney Steve Levine argued that the drugs were planted on his client at the time of the arrest. Even though the LAPD has been keeping body cam videos from these arrests away from the public eye, CBS2 News Investigative Reporter David Goldstein was able to obtain the footage of Shields' arrest which appears to show officers placing drugs in the suspect's wallet.
The officers were possibly unaware that the body cam video also captures and saves footage 30 seconds prior to when the camera is activated. That is when the alleged planting of cocaine took place.
One angle from the body cam shows LAPD officer Gaxiola picking up Shields' wallet off the ground and showing it to officer Samuel Lee while motioning to the suspect as if to say that the wallet belongs to him. After putting the wallet back down, a small bag with a white substance, which later tested positive for drugs, was picked up off the street and eventually placed in Shields' wallet.
In a sworn testimony delivered by Lee prior to the hearing, he claims the drugs were found in Shields' left front pocket. However, Levine points to a specific moment where the cocaine was in Gaxiola's hand before it ended up in Shields' wallet. "There’s a little white square here in his hand," he said. "I believe the video shows the drugs were in his right hand and transfers to his left hand."
The LAPD have opened an internal investigation into the use of body cams by officers in the field.