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Minn. police respond to Facebook video claiming ‘planted’ evidence

The video shows an officer handing an empty plastic bag to a second officer for evidence collection, police said

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By Emily Cutts
Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.

ROCHESTER, Minn. — A post on social media that accused Rochester police officers of “planting a baggie” in a vehicle following a traffic stop Tuesday evening is false, the department says.

The post in the Spotted in Rochester group stated "... I got a video of that cop planting a baggie in the door...” The poster later clarifies in the comments that "... after looking closer at the video, he didn’t put it in the door, it looks more like he put it between the seats.” A 3 minute, 34 second video was also posted to the page. In it, it clearly shows an officer handing a item to another officer who is searching the front passenger seat area.

Rochester police communications coordinator Amanda Grayson said the department reviewed the social media video and the officer’s body camera video and determined the claim to be false. Grayson said that during the search of the vehicle, an officer handed a visibly empty plastic bag to another officer saying it was for evidence.

“That officer is then observed putting evidence into the bag and placing it onto the roof of the vehicle in plain sight,” Grayson said in an email.

“We take these accusations seriously and will look in to it,” Rochester police Capt. Casey Moilanen said Wednesday morning, hours before Grayson’s statement.

Moilanen said police stopped the vehicle Tuesday evening because officers had probable cause to arrest one of its occupants for a controlled substance crime. That individual, who police did not identify Wednesday morning, was the only person arrested. Moilanen said officers found drug paraphernalia in the car.

According to the Rochester Police Department’s policy, “Officers shall activate their (body-worn cameras) when anticipating that they will be involved in, become involved in, or witness other officers of this agency involved in a pursuit, stop of a motorist or pedestrian, search, seizure, arrest, use of force, adversarial contact, and during other activities likely to yield information having evidentiary value.”

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