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Caught fabricating evidence, convicted Baltimore police officer remains on force 2½ years later

More than 2½ years ago, defense attorneys released Baltimore Police body-camera footage showing Officer Richard Pinheiro Jr. placing drugs in a vacant lot and then acting as if he’d just discovered them. A year later, Pinheiro was convicted of fabricating evidence and misconduct in office, a decision upheld last week by a state appeals court.

Prosecutors have dropped cases that relied on Pinheiro’s police work and say they’d never call him again as a witness.

Still, Pinheiro remains on the city police force and keeps getting paid, working a desk job as internal affairs detectives continue their own investigation into whether he broke department policies when he broke the law.

Police officials said the process for handling officers like Pinheiro is out of their control — determined by the state’s controversial Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. They say the “eventual outcome will be appropriate.”

Calling Pinheiro’s continued paycheck a disgrace, police reform advocates and defense attorneys say the department’s claims about its hands being tied are misleading, and that the state law it’s hiding behind should be dismantled as a legal relic that for too long has allowed officers to avoid accountability.


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